North Korea has joined hands with a Hong Kong-based company to develop the country's northwestern border city of Sinuiju into a special economic zone, a North Korean official said.
Sinuiju, which borders China's Dandong city, has drawn much attention from foreign investors for its geographical advantage as North Korea's western gateway to China, Ri Chol-sok, the vice chairman of North Korea's economic development committee, said in an interview in the March issue of Kumsugangsan magazine, a North Korean government mouthpiece.
"Now a joint development company has been established for the development of (Sinuiju) and is striving to win back lost opportunities," said the North Korean official.
Hong Kong-based conglomerate Great China International Investment Groups Ltd. reportedly signed the deal with North Korea.
North Korea is also making efforts to lure foreign investment to other special economic zones, including one in the Rason area in the northern tip of the country, according to Ri.
The foreign company already has deep ties with the North, having joined the country's project launched in January to renovate the eastern part of the capital Pyongyang.
The North had first designated Sinuiju as a special administrative city to experiment with introducing a market economy, only to see the plan go nowhere. Sinuiju is one of the 13 areas the North plans to develop into special economic zones, according to an announcement last November.
"The joint venture established with the Hong Kong company indicates North Korea's aggressiveness in developing Sinuiju," Cho Bong-hyun, an analyst at the IBK Economic Research Institute, said.
Meanwhile, Washington-based Radio Free Asia reported Wednesday that the country has allowed foreign tourists to make stay-over trips to the Sinuiju area.
Young Pioneer Tours, based in Beijing and specializing in trips to North Korea, recently announced the decision, the radio station said. Previously, foreign sightseers were allowed only one day in the border city. (Yonhap)