Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"North Korea offers to pay its debts in ginseng"

Compared to some of our North Korea posts* this idea seems perfectly rational.
From Foreign Policy's Passport blog:
It's no secret North Korea is among some of the poorest nations on earth. What's a little harder to figure out is exactly how poor it is. But observers got a better idea today as Pyongyang, running short on cash, reportedly tried to service its debt to the Czech Republic with shipments of ginseng (paywall):
Czech officials confirmed that Pyongyang had offered to settle 5 per cent of its Kc186m ($10m) in accumulated debt in ginseng, an invigorating root used in dietary supplements and teas that are supposed to improve memory, stamina and libido. Communist Czechoslovakia was a leading supplier of heavy machinery, trucks and trams to North Korea. 
The Czech market for alternative medicine isn't all that big, so if the government accepts, it'll have to re-sell the ginseng abroad....MORE
* Totally off-topic: Kentucky Fried North Korea 
N. Korea Shows Signs of Opening Up
Choi Won-ho has made six trips to North Korea in the past two years, struggling each time to convince the reclusive government there that the time was ripe for a chicken franchise.
"I told those guys that Kentucky Fried Chicken would come sooner or later," said Choi, president of a company that has franchised 70 chicken restaurants in South Korea. "I told them it would be better to have an indigenous Korean brand, with takeout delivery."...MORE

And a good thing too, if you remember what happened to Herman der Grosse's cousins.*

rabbits nibbling
Herman, in happier times. Then:

No More Monster Bunnies for North Korea

The fate of 12 German giant rabbits delivered to North Korea is in doubt. The breeder who sent them suspects they have been eaten by top officials rather than used to set up a bunny farm. Berlin's North Korean embassy denies the allegation. One thing is sure: the country will have to find another seller.

More from Der Spiegel

*From das Kaninchen to der Hasenpfeffer-  
200701122151 ITA says "Karl Szmolinsky, a 67 year old, East German pensioner that has bred rabbits the size of dogs for 47 years was asked by North Korea's ambassador whether he might be willing to sell some rabbits to set up a breeding farm in North Korea. Each of his German Grey Rabbits can feed 8 people and will possible reduce if not stop solve the food shortage crisis in North Korea." Via boingboing
North Korean Soccer Coach Sentenced to Manual Labor for Loss (FSLR)
North Korea endorses IPCC, goes Solar