Kim shifts gear to economy as North Korea ditches nuclear tests

The leader’s statement at a ruling party meeting on Friday includes a pledge to seek a “favorable” international environment for economic development so that he can put the economy “on an upward spiral track.”

That builds on his 2012 vow to ensure no North Koreans would “have to tighten their belts” any longer. It also means he is seeking the help of other countries for developing his economy, including the lifting of trade, financial and energy sanctions that hardened every time North Korea detonated a nuclear bomb…

“Everything about North Korea spells potential,” says Kim Young-hui, a North Korean defector studying at Seoul’s government-owned Korea Development Bank. “North Korea can be a bridge linking the peninsula to as far as Europe via China. Imagine how much cargo could flow on that Asian highway.”