Report: North Korea's $7.8B Wonsan project seeks foreign investment

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has sought foreign investment in Wonsan for several years. File Photo by KCNA/EPA-EFE
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has sought foreign investment in Wonsan for several years. File Photo by KCNA/EPA-EFE

Dec. 17 (UPI) -- North Korea may have ambitions to transform a coastal area in its eastern Kangwon Province into the "next Singapore," but the regime needs about $7.8 billion to make Kim Jong Un's vision a reality, according to a South Korean press report.

A 158-page North Korean document from 2016 obtained by Shin Dong-A, an influential monthly newsmagazine, shows North Korea sought foreign investment for a new city to be built in the Wonsan-Kalma coastal area.


The booklet includes an introduction to the Wonsan-Mount Kumgang International Tourism Zone, a section on investment targets and details on regulations for foreign investors. The guide is available in multiple languages, including Korean, English, Chinese and Russian.

North Korea's call for investment in Kangwon Province has been communicated to foreigners since at least 2015. There are plans to build hotels, connect the region by railroad, and even build a hydroelectric power plant, Shin Dong-A reported.

North Korea's Wonsan regional development company held a briefing for potential investors on March 20, 2015, in the Chinese city of Shenyang, according to sources who attended the two-hour information session. The area was designated a special zone on June 11, 2014.


North Korean officials told attendees at the time the zone would be visa-exempt, and that the goal was to attract 300,000 to 400,000 visitors in the "short term."

The North Koreans also said the area is in urgent need of wastewater treatment facilities, an issue that is also raised in the 2016 document, according to Shin Dong-A.

The booklet shows North Korea has plans to build a golf course on the northwestern banks of a lake, and a 60-story skyscraper in a business district in Wonsan.

Kim has visited the Wonsan-Kalma region in 2018 to provide field guidance in construction, and at a shoe factory.

On Monday, state media said Kim commemorated the seventh death anniversary of father Kim Jong Il with a visit to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.

"He paid highest tribute to Kim Jong Il who devoted his all to the prosperity of the country and the happiness of the people until the last moments of his revolutionary career," KCNA said.

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