Will North Korea Follow Vietnam, Myanmar?

26 February, 2015

South Korea has called for North Korea to follow the reform model of two other Asian countries. But observers say North Korea will likely reject the idea.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye proposed the idea earlier this month. She said North Korea should carry out reforms like the ones approved in Vietnam.

The Vietnamese government has enacted economic reforms in recent years. Some experts have credited those measures with fueling Vietnam's economic growth.

Will North Korea Follow Vietnam, Myanmar?
In this 2013 file photo, employees work on an assembly line at a shoe factory in Tan Lap village, outside Hanoi. Vietnam adopted a broad plan to boost its economy.

The South Korean leader also noted reforms in Myanmar, the country also known as Burma. She said Myanmar has carried out reforms and experienced economic growth.

Observers say the Vietnam model could make sense for North Korea. Peter Beck is the Korea Representatives for the Asia Foundation in Seoul. He told VOA, "Vietnam shows that you can make changes to the economy, reform and open up, without destabilizing the regime. So I think the Vietnamese model is appealing to the North Korean government."

But Peter Beck does not expect any major development in North Korea. He said the country's reform process has been "very slow" over the past 20 years.

Phat Tat Dong is chairman of the Vietnamese-North Korean Friendship Association. He told VOA that North Korean diplomats have made it clear that officials are concerned about how the country can operate independently, not reform. He added, "North Koreans say they are among socialist countries. But Vietnam's socialism is much different."

Phat Tat Dong said Vietnam has made its economy market-oriented and strong. He said that, from what he has seen, the North Korean economy is still based on financial support from the government.

Phat Tat Dong also said he wants to establish a presence for Vietnamese businesses in North Korea. But he said he has made little progress on the move.

I'm Anne Ball.

VOA's Colin Nguyen prepared this report. George Grow wrote it for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.


Words in This Story

reform - adj., making better by changing; improving

reform - n., a change to a better condition

modeln., an example; something, usually small, made to show how something will look or work

presidentn., the chief official of a country that is a republic