Is Doing Business with North Korea Ethical?

The framework for this discussion can be found on this English article on the Radio Netherlands Worldwide website here:

Here is the Challenge when using the Human Rights “Lens”

When you add the human rights factor in as a lens through which all business and commerce must be viewed, you then find yourself in the peculiar position of losing on three critical counts: (1) having drastically narrowed your available market; (2) reducing your opportunities to assist those in the country or market where help is needed the most–like North Korea; and, (3) blocking your ability over time to influence the offending government and abate the abuses in question.

Regime stability, the rollback of human rights abuses, and the avoidance of an even more massive humanitarian crisis in the DPRK can never occur simply by folding one’s arms and saying, “No business where there are human rights violations”–that is a policy invitation to disaster. The potential humanitarian disaster North Korea faces is of an incomprehensible magnitude. (For more on the potential humanitarian crisis, see the discussion on this television show here:… )

Paul Tjia’s work (a Netherlands consultant specializing in outsourcing work from European firms into North Korea)  in developing the private sector in North Korea is the foundation for peace and stability in that troubled country as well as in Northeast Asia. I for one, take my hat off to him, and encourage others to join him. He is building North Korea’s future and doing something that governments cannot–developing the private sector.

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