South Korea has agreed with the North to modernize its infrastructure, but North Korea's economy is impoverished and significantly smaller than the South's. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo
May 1 (UPI) -- Kim Jong Un has a strong desire to reform the North Korean economy, Seoul said Tuesday.
But the challenge of rehabilitating North Korea's long stalled economy could be a daunting task for the South to tackle alone, according to Bank of Korea statistics.
South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myung-gyun said the North Korean leader expressed ambitions to improve the quality of North Korean lives and focus on economic development, News 1 reported.
Cho was speaking before South Korean lawmakers, following the historic inter-Korea summit on Friday.
Cho's remarks come at a time when South Korea could be in discussions with the North to take practical steps to connect border railways and to modernize the Donghae and Gyeongui train lines and roads.
Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in had said in a joint announcement they would agree to work together to rebuild the railroads.
It is unclear whether South Korea's infrastructure plans run afoul of international sanctions placed on the North following its missile tests in 2017.
The stark contrast between the two economies could pose challenges on both sides.
South Korean newspaper Segye Ilbo reported Tuesday South Korea's gross national income or GNI is 45 times greater than that of the North, and total South Korea trade is 138 times greater.
The latest statistics from South Korea's central bank also estimate the South's nominal GNI is $1.53 trillion while North Korea's GNI is about $33.8 billion.
Seoul is looking to multinational institutions including the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, or AIIB, and the Asian Development Bank, to support economic recovery in North Korea, Maeil Business reported Tuesday.
President of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Jin Liqun had said the bank could provide financial support to North Korea although Pyongyang is not a member state, according to the report.