See’s non-profit supports entrepreneurs and individuals interested in business in North Korea through workshops, internships and mentorship programs. These programs are available to people living inside as well as outside of North Korea.
To be sure, businesses face profound hurdles within the autocratic state. Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein, an associate scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia, pointed out that international sanctions are a major impediment — but hurdles go beyond that.
“North Korea still lacks any sort of legal protection for property rights and the like, in the sense that we would talk about it in the West,” he said, adding that “the economy still to a large extent lacks clear and consistently enforced rules and legal frameworks, even though a great number of reforms have improved the situation over the past few years.”
For his part, See insists that North Koreans are trying to make a living through entrepreneurship and business and just like the rest of the world, they too want to be integrated with the global economy.
North Korea is known to be reclusive nation with a challenging business environment. So why did See think this would be a good idea?
“I thought this was a communist economy and people wouldn’t be interested in running a business. They had a very strong personal aspiration to prove something. So, when I left the country, I thought, what can I do to help them?”