Business in North Korea: a paradoxical and fascinating situation is interpreted by a true insider.
In 2002, the Swiss power company ABB appointed Felix Abt its country director for North Korea. The Swiss Entrepreneur lived and worked in North Korea for seven years, one of the few foreign businessmen there. After the experience, Abt felt compelled to writeA Capitalist in North Korea to describe the multifaceted society he encountered.
North Korea, at the time, was heavily sanctioned by the UN which made it extremely difficult to do business. Yet he discovered that it was a place where plastic surgery and South Korean TV dramas were wildly popular and where he rarely needed to walk more than a block to grab a quick hamburger. He was closely monitored and once faced accusations of spying, yet he learned that young North Koreans are hopeful—signing up for business courses in anticipation of a brighter, more open, future. InA Capitalist in North Korea, Abt shares these and many other unusual facts and insights about one of the world's most secretive nations.
Felix Abt co-founded the European Business Association as well as the Pyongyang Business School in North Korea. Prior to this, Abt worked in Europe, Africa and Asia as a senior executive for F. Hoffmann-La Roche and the ABB Group. In 2002, ABB appointed him as the Resident Country Director in North Korea. He went on to become a point man for Western investments in the country, representing several multinational corporations and even founding a business of his own. He currently lives in Vietnam andremains a shareholder in various North Korean joint ventures.
"Few westerners have had a similar opportunity to meet and work alongside ordinary North Koreans – let alone socialize with them – and his book demonstrates an abiding affection for the people of this benighted state." —Julian Ryall,South China Morning Post
"No one has [Felix Abt's] credentials: seven years of unparalleled access to most levels of North Koreans in the central government and seven of nine provinces, founder of a Pyongyang Business School and first President of the Pyongyang European Business Association. This "capitalist" attacks conventional wisdom on North Korea; sometimes with blunt force, sometimes with nuance, but always with a businessman's eye and always with a fiery, humor-tempered wit. Indeed, the personal pictures and lively pace of the book combine the feel of a fireside chat with facts one expects from a businessman." —Roger Cavazos, Associate, The Nautilus Institute
"It's rare indeed to get an insider perspective from one of these agents of change." —Foreign Policy in Focus
"The Swiss-born Abt, who lived and worked in Pyongyang from 22 to 29, is one of a small number of Western businesspeople who encourage economic engagement with North Korea." —Vice News
"Felix Abt prefers to stay apolitical and impartial when sharing his thoughts and memories of the seven-year sojourn. From the book we can see that he loves Korea and cares about its people. In his assessments of North Korea's past and present the author approaches all issues from a human (and humanistic) perspective, trying to show life in the country without political or ideological coloring."—Leonid Petrov, lecturer in Korean Studies, The University of Sydney
"Abt Draws from a trove of personal experience to create a vivid account of the people and place. Along the way, Abt addresses big questions such as economic reform and practical ones such as how to use e–commerce to achieve brand recognition in North Korea."—Jeff Baron, U.S. – Korea Institute at Sais
"…the book is also peppered with interesting anecdotes and stories about cultural and private life in the DPRK that do not typically receive attention in the western media."—Curtis Melvin, blogger,North Korea Economy Watch