SINGAPORE -- Jim Rogers, the Singapore-based US investor and chairman of Rogers Holdings, said he was still optimistic about investing in North Korea even after the country’s leader Kim Jong-un ordered the removal of all South Korean facilities from the Kumgangsan resort.
“I’ve never met the man so I don’t know what he thinks, but I speculated that maybe, what he was doing was part of a negotiation ploy,” Rogers said in a telephone interview with The Korea Herald on Sunday.
“If you tell somebody you’re going to do bad things, then they come and start to negotiate. I would suspect that he is trying to get better deals because he needs foreign investment very, very much.”
Rogers said he could not imagine Kim taking away investments that foreigners had made in North Korea because that would scare away other foreign investors.
“He wants to open North Korea, rebuild its economy and has said that he wants to do for North Korea what Deng Xiaoping did for China. He wants a peace regime,” Rogers said.
“I would like to invest in North Korea, but I’m not allowed to now because I’m an American and it’s illegal. ... Tourism is an obvious investment opportunity because the country has never been on the world tourism map. Once the North opens up, many people will want to go and see its beaches, mountains, temples and other man-made sites.”
Rogers was appointed outside director of Ananti, a South Korean company which built and managed a golf course in the Kumgangsan resort, in 2018.
On denuclearization of North Korea, Rogers said China, Russia, and South and North Koreas want it, but Japan was against it because it could not compete with an “open Korea.”
“The problem is the American army. South Korea is the only place in the world where America can have troops near the Chinese and Russian borders. So they don’t want to withdraw,” he said.
“I thought Mr. Moon Jae-in was tough enough to tell Trump to withdraw the US troops. ... Think of all the money South and North Korea would save if they didn’t have to spend so much on defense.”
About the global economy, Rogers said there were signs that the world was getting closer to the worst economic downturn in his lifetime.
“In 2008, we had a recession because of too much debt, and now the debt is much higher everywhere. ... Even China, which in 2008 had a lot of money saved for a rainy day, has debt now. So the next time we have a problem, it’s going to be terrible,” he said.
Kim So-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org
Korea Herald Correspondent