Choson Exchange is a Singapore-registered social enterprise focusing on economic policy, business and legal training for young North Koreans in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Choson Exchange brings foreign volunteers to teach entrepreneurship, business, marketing, law or economics, after which the volunteers tour relevant sites in North Korea. They also sponsor North Koreans to go overseas for exposure and learning. Programs include economic policy, entrepreneurship and financial sector development.
The organization has trained over 1,600 North Koreans since 2009. Choson Exchange is the largest business network in North Korea and the most active organization training Koreans in economic areas. It has been profiled as a Harvard Business School case study and was cited by futurist Parag Khanna's book Connectography as "the most prominent international nongovernmental organization operating in North Korea". In 2018, the Washington Post cited Choson Exchange's work bringing North Koreans to Singapore as a reason why Singapore was chosen as the site of the first Summit between the leaders of the United States and DPRK, Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong Un.
Choson Exchange was founded by Geoffrey See, a Yale University and Wharton School graduate and MIT Researcher, who began negotiations over educational exchange with North Koreans in 2007. The organization focuses on providing “training and advisory in topics related to business, economics, finance and law” in North Korea.
Choson Exchange organizes workshops in Pyongyang, Wonsan and Rason focusing on economics, business and law and also conducts training programs overseas. Workshop leaders all volunteer in their private capacity, but previous trainings have featured the ex-Finance Minister of Singapore, ex-Chairman of Singapore International Airlines, bankers from Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merrill Lynch as well as big-four consultancies, major tech companies and startups. Choson Exchange workshop fall into two main tracks, one focused on business and management skills, the other on broader economic management issues. Major programs in these fields include the Women in Business program, aimed at supporting female entrepreneurs and managers and the Provincial Development Program, focused on the governance of DPRK Special Economic Zones. The organization also supports young North Koreans with internships and scholarships for longer, master's-level study programs.
Choson Exchange compiles and distributes economic and business materials in various formats for audiences in North Korea. The non-profit is also exploring options for supporting an economic think tank and an incubation space in North Korea. The founder is a member of the Kauffman Fellows Program, a leadership program for venture capitalists and those involved in building out entrepreneurial ecosystems.
Research and Outreach
Choson Exchange studies and reports on changes in North Korea’s economic policy and investment laws for an international audience. Choson Exchange staff also provide analysis on political or social events, particularly as they relate to the economic life of the DPRK.
The organization is also regularly cited by international news organizations on political and economic developments in North Korea, having appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian, the Economist, Reuters, the Associated Press, China Daily and others.
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