North Korea is trying to create its own startup scene


From the Fertile Crescent that is Silicon Valley, to the vibrant middle powers of London and Tel Aviv, to the emerging unknowns of Lagos and Nairobi, there are startup scenes in hundreds of cities across the globe. One place you’d never expect to find a startup scene, however, is North Korea, but with the blessing of the country’s almighty government, a group of a dozen or so North Koreans are working to change that. The group has been travelling across Southeast Asia with the intention of learning how startup life works, and how they can bring that knowledge back to North Korea in order to create a startup scene of their own within the country. 

A startup scene is quietly brewing in North Korea — with the blessing of the government. A group of about 15 North Koreans is visiting incubators and coworking spaces in Southeast Asia to learn what startup life is like, and if they should consider setting up similar coworking shops as well. They visited The Hub on Friday, where Mashable Asia’s office is. They were curious about the business model of the startups here, as well as the space itself. They wanted to know if companies here had to register their startups with the Singapore government, and if they paid for the coworking space, or if the government did. The group are in the region for a three-month stretch, and were just in Kuala Lumpur to visit Malaysia’s Multimedia Development Corporation (Mdec) and the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (Magic) — two government-run bodies in the tech and startup space. Most of the group were academics and researchers at government-owned tech firms in North Korea — not at the startups themselves, apparently. The trip was organised by Choson Exchange, a nonprofit dedicated to helping North Koreans develop business skills.

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