N. Korea seeks South investments, CJ Group chief says

By BLOOMBERG

SEOUL • North Korea signalled it wants to bring in investments from South Korean companies to help modernise the secluded country, according to one of the business chiefs that went to Pyongyang last week.

North Korea wants to have economic cooperation and technical assistance from the South, Sohn Kyung-shik, the 79-year-old co-chairman of CJ Group and the head of the Korea Employers Federation, told Bloomberg Television’s Shery Ahn in an interview.

“What they really want are investments to set up industry there,” he said.

The comments reflect the optimism that’s trickling out in the wake of last week’s summit between North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in.

But many hurdles remain, as both countries are technically still at war and conducting business with North Korea is heavily restricted by United Nations sanctions.

Sohn accompanied Moon and was part of a South Korean business delegation that included Samsung Group vice chairman Jay Y Lee and LG Group chairman Koo Kwang-mo, who met with the North’s Vice Premier Ri Ryongnam, who’s in charge of economic affairs. Samsung’s Lee said then that he hoped the meeting would turn into an opportunity to build trust.

“They really want to have economic cooperation with South Korea,” Sohn said. “But we didn’t make any big commitments so far.”

As to CJ, whose business ranges from foods to entertainment, the group sees opportunities in North Korea’s food and logistics industries, Sohn said.