February 21, 2024

The ill-fated Sinuiju special region

Proposed special autonomous region would have brought a little bit of Macau onto North Korean soil

North Korea declares that one her cities will become a special zone. There will be no censorship there, all media will be free and freedom of speech will be secured. The economic system will be capitalist – that is official. Moreover, foreigners will be allowed to visit visa-free. Sounds impossible – but this is no fantasy nor an alternate history novel. That is what actually happened in 2002, when Kim Jong Il started his most daring reform project, so bold that it surpassed even Deng Xiaoping in its audacity. Sadly, this project was later aborted – but not because Kim Jong Il had second thoughts.