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As the leadership of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (hereafter DPRK, or North Korea) looks to the future, economic development figures centrally in its officially proclaimed agenda. This year, as it has done every year over the past decade, the government's joint New Year editorial stressed the imperative of economic construction, broadly outlining the sorts of improvements that are to be achieved over the remainder of the current calendar year, and intoned that "The present grand onward march for the improvement of the people's standard of living demands that a full-scale offensive be launched in the overall economic front." But economic growth and development has just taken on a whole new importance in North Korean policy, one that extends beyond rhetoric: this past January, for the first time in over two decades, Pyongyang has formally unveiled a new multi-year economic plan: a 10-year "strategy plan for economic development" under a newly formed State General Bureau for Economic Development. The new economic plan is intended not only to meet the DPRK's longstanding objective of becoming a "powerful and prosperous country" [Kangsong Taeguk] by 2012 (the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung), but also to promote North Korea to the ranks of the "advanced countries in 2020."
Details on the new 10-year economic plan are as yet sketchy. South Korean analysts report that the plan envisions massive amounts of new investment in North Korea: up to $100 billion, by some accounts.3 But even if the investment target is more modest than such rumors suggest, North Korea will be counting on more than just domestic capital accumulation to secure this funding. It will have to rely upon major inflows of both foreign private capital--and foreign aid.
This is the sixth paper in the Working Paper Series on Development Policy.
Nicholas Eberstadt is the Henry Wendt scholar in political economy at AEI.