Cover of "The ABCs of North Korea's SEZs," by Andray AbrahamianIn recent years, North Korea has put greater emphasis on economic growth, resuming economic experimentation and putting in place new measures to try to attract foreign investment. More and more, Pyongyang seems to be placing its bets on developing Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to serve as the main engine of that desired growth. While an SEZ strategy is hardly new for the North, the establishment of new SEZ laws and specialized zone development plans seem to indicate a better understanding of what it takes to attract foreign investors.

In this USKI Special Report, Andray Abrahamian, Executive Director of Choson Exchange, examines the political and economic drivers of North Korea’s SEZ development policy and its established zones, and spotlights SEZs with the greatest growth potential. Abrahamian also draws insight from site visits and discussions with North Korean officials, businesspersons and academics to further explore the limitations, challenges and opportunities for North Korea’s new and planned SEZs.

Download the USKI Report, “The ABCs of North Korea’s SEZs,” by Andray Abrahamian.


Andray Abrahamian is the Executive Director of Choson Exchange, a Singapore-based non-profit focused on training North Koreans in economic policy, business and law in North Korea. Focusing on Korean peninsula political-economy, he has advised members of USFK, the US Department of State and South Korean government officials. He has given special lectures at Harvard’s Kennedy School, University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies and numerous DC-based research institutes. Andray lectured in the International Relations Department at Ulsan University, South Korea from 2006-2012. He is a Non-Resident Kelly Fellow at CSIS.