Skip to main content
lee33_ED JONES_AFP_Getty Images ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

Can North Korea Be the Next Vietnam?

In 1986, Vietnam initiated the “Đổi Mới,” a set of economic reforms that resulted in the creation of a market economy under the firm rule of the Communist Party. North Korea has what it needs to achieve a similar transformation, but it must embrace full denuclearization first.

SEOUL – After decades of deadlock, there seems finally to be some diplomatic movement on the Korean Peninsula. The June summit between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump – the first between a North Korean leader and a sitting US president – produced a joint statement in which Kim agreed to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, in exchange for security guarantees from Trump.

Of course, while some cheer the development, others remind us of the North’s long history of broken promises. But even if Kim’s pledge was sincere, his regime will benefit from such guarantees – and from an end to crippling international sanctions – only if it can manage to repair North Korea’s broken economy. Could it use Vietnam’s experience as a model?

In 1986, Vietnam initiated the Đổi Mới policy, a set of economic reforms that, much like Deng Xiaoping’s reforms in China, aimed to create a market economy under the firm rule of the Communist Party. The government disbanded agricultural cooperatives, removed price controls on agricultural goods, and allowed farmers to own land. It also privatized many companies, eased foreign investment regulations, created a more supportive environment for private business, established export-processing zones, and promoted labor-intensive manufacturing industries.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/fdy6H7E;
  1. benami154_Yousef MasoudSOPA ImagesLightRocket via Getty Images_palestine Yousef Masoud/SOPA IMAGES/LightRocket via Getty Images

    Forgetting Palestine

    Shlomo Ben-Ami

    The two-state solution is virtually dead in the water, and the international community has largely abandoned the Palestinian cause. At this point, there is little to stop Israel from cementing the one-state reality that its right-wing government has long sought, regardless of whether that leads to a permanent civil war.

  2. sachs313_SebastionBozonAFPGettyImages_EUflagtrump Sebastion Bozon/AFP/Getty Images

    Europe Must Oppose Trump

    Jeffrey D. Sachs

    European leaders should recognize that a significant majority of Americans reject Trump’s malignant narcissism. By opposing Trump and defending the international rule of law, Europeans and Americans together can strengthen world peace and transatlantic amity for generations to come.

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions