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Say Hello to North Korea's New Business School

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Last fall, we reported on North Korea’s attempt -- one of several -- to “learn” capitalism from their Chinese allies. The nation, everyone’s favorite repressive dictatorship/black spot on aerial maps of the world, was attempting to convince its few remaining friends to do business.

Of course, effectiveness-wise, the country’s efforts to learn capitalism seem to go as well as, say not mourning Kim Jong-il’s death hard-enough. That is, while there are some attempts at change in the special economic zone Rason, most of the country is mired in Communist central planning and height-shrinking poverty.  

Well, under Kim Jong-un a small -- well, miniscule -- part of that might be about to change. Recently, the NGO Choson Exchange has been sending financial gurus to teach a few of the country’s elite about business.

The Korea Herald quotes one of the projects organizers saying, “We are trying to find the best and brightest to equip them with the knowledge to help them navigate the global economy.” The NGO’s founder went on to say that he saw these economic lessons as a way to engage the country in a “constructive and a-political way.”

But, before anyone gets too excited about the newly capitalist North Korea -- with an iPad (AAPL) in every kitchen and an Android (GOOG) in every pocket -- the next seminar will only serve about 20 people. All of them are young employees of various state agencies.

Still, Choson Exchange hopes that the next generation of North Koreans will be more open to new ideas than the last. One employee reports, of past seminars, that participants -- in spite of their country’s reputation -- are very interested in the outside world.

The program has run in to the occasional problem. In response to certain economic suggestions, some North Koreans have told their teachers “that’s not how we do things.” The NGO also faces severe funding issues.

All that aside, a new generation’s desire to learn does provide a little bit of hope for those who want to open up the isolated country. Maybe it’ll even help with this week’s nuclear talks.
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