North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may be strapped for cash and could be ordering his subordinates to seek out investors ahead of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
A source in Pyongyang who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Daily NK government officials in North Korea are being told to find new sources of investment, using the momentum on the peninsula that is building before the Winter Games.
“In connection to the Pyeongchang Olympics in the South, we have been instructed to recruit foreign investors for the sports and construction sectors,” the source said.
The source went on to explain a shortage of foreign currency, due to strong sanctions, has been detrimental to North Korea’s construction sector.
“The orders are a reflection of the desperate need for foreign currency,” the source said, adding the trading firms usually focused on bringing in U.S. dollars have been unable to perform because of embargoes.
According to the source, the science and technology planning agency and a government entity focused on industrial development are reaching out to overseas networks of pro-Pyongyang Koreans to boost investments.
North Korean officials who have been ordered to bring in cash are distressed because they find the task overwhelming and challenging, the report states.
“As recently as 2016, investors would appear from Canada, or China, but now it is like reaching for the stars,” the source said.
North Korea has sent a total of 73 state-sanctioned citizens to the South as part of its mission to the Olympics, including athletes and performers, News 1 reported Tuesday.
The number was sourced from Seoul’s unification ministry, and another 280 North Koreans are scheduled to arrive in the South on Wednesday, according to the report.