September 19, 2020

The great North Korean soju fiasco: Inside the curious case of Steve Park

New details from former partner shed further light on doomed ventures

A few days shy of exactly five years ago, the Kim Jong Il regime hired Korea Pyongyang Trading U.S.A., a two-man business run from an apartment in Upper Manhattan, to help revive its now-shuttered Mount Kumgang resort. Attracting visitors would be a herculean task, as North Korean troops shot and killed a South Korean tourist four years earlier who accidentally wandered into a restricted area.

“The Directorate for Keumgangsan Special International Tourism District (hereinafter ‘A’) and the Korea Pyongyang Trading U.S.A. Inc. (hereinafter ‘B’) have agreed to develop the Keumgangsan area, a world-famous mountain, into a special world-class international tourism district, and to jointly engage in the Keumgangsan international tourism business under the principles of ‘voluntariness, trust, equality, and reciprocity,’” read the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Korea Pyongyang U.S.A. and the North Korean government dated August 23, 2011 — or, as the MoU noted, “Juche Year 100.”