Do Neo Cons wear North Korean clothes? Could well be..

What Some Brands Don’t Know about North Korea

A recent trip down to the DPRK yielded some interesting observations backed up by others just returned from a trade mission in the country (no trade really, but a good excuse for a look at the weirdness on the company account). The North Koreans were eager to show that life was going on despite the imposition of tighter sanctions recently.

Particularly of note are the 250 or so Chinese-DPRK joint ventures. Much less is known about most of these than the more high profile South Korean investments corralled in Kaesong down near the DMZ.

The Chinese-DPRK JVs range across the country but there are clusters up along the PRC-DPRK border along the Yalu River and particularly around border towns such as Sinuiju. Many of these Chinese-North Korean ventures exist in name only – either the funding has never come through, negotiations are stalled or the power/spare parts/equipment/necessary permits/technical know all (and usually a combination of several of these factors) has never materialised.

However, there are a number of textiles operations up and running and guess what despite the boycott and official ban on DPRK made products being exported to or sold in the USA there are factories producing garments for the American market. This means that any number of Americans – maybe even hawkish types in Washington – are strolling around wearing DPRK-made duds.

How can this happen – prettily easily actually. US brands contracting to Chinese manufacturers just don’t know that some of that work is being sub-contracted across the border – of course when it is shipped the label reads ‘Made in China’. Brands beware.

Paul French, China Editor, and author of “North Korea: The Paranoid Peninsula, A Modern History” (hyperlinked above)

1 Comment

  1. Accounts from a BBC music journalist friend who spent time in North Korea reveal that the Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il wears high heels to boost his physical presence, his favourite sport is jet skiing, and that all North Korean houses are equipped with a state provided radio which can be turned down, but never off. Motorways double as runways for military aircraft, and are lined with towers filled with explosives to allow the roads to be blocked in the event of an army retreat. The people are forbidden from having even terrestrial phones, and bicycles are illegal as they allow for movement between towns. The public are told the Dear Leader was born after an immaculate conception high on a holy mountain in the country. Not even Campbell and Mandelson ever managed quite such a degree of message control. Meanwhile we worried about Saddam, whose ageing Skud missiles could barely whimper beyond the Iraqi border.

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