There has long been a prevailing view concerning North Korea, officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), that the world’s most reclusive socialist state, in accordance with its “juche” (self-reliance) ideology, shuns capitalism, and discourages entrepreneurship and innovation, and feigns reform to further its nuclear ambitions including the development of inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Under its previous leaders, Kim Il Sung and his son, Kim Jong Il, North Korea saw little need for and discouraged innovation in the financial sector, particularly that of Western origin. However, since coming to power in December 2011, its current leader, Kim Jong-Un, has placed a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, in numerous sectors, including its financial system. Based on research and interviews conducted with international business and entrepreneurship experts that have trained North Koreans, and personal experience as an adjunct business faculty member in North Korea, this research shows the recent developments including the role played by entrepreneurs in helping North Korea achieve its goal of economic and technological transformation. The primary focus is on changes in North Korea’s financial sector.
Keywords: North Korea, entrepreneurship, financial system, innovation.