Written by Tham Qian Yu
When one thinks of North Korea, without a second thought, one would quickly link the country to its nuclear armament programs and its aggressive and impulsive communist leaders. Who would have thought that, this isolated country – left behind by the world after the 1953 Korean War – would have the potential to produce its own group of entrepreneurs? Well, Geoffrey See sees North Korea in a completely different light.
He sees a country filled with unexplored opportunities, a country with the potential to grow its very own entrepreneurs and a country with citizens who are willing to work to produce positive change in their homeland.
His company, Choson Exchange, founded in 2010, exudes its willingness to work with the locals to bring about this change in an extremely unforgiving environment. Despite numerous setbacks, Choson Exchange stuck by its vision and continued to bring experienced professionals to the North to support these Koreans with hands-on training entrepreneurship, business, marketing and more.
In an interview on Shanghaiist, together with the executive director of Choson Exchange, Andray Abrahamian, Geoffrey’s inspiration to start the company came from his first experience on the North Korean issue when he attended an intergovernmental conference in the South in 2005. He signed up for a tour of the reclusive country in 2007 and met a guide who was driven by a passion for business and economics.
This sparked an interest in him to start a volunteer-driven organisation to provide the citizens of North Korea – who were deprived of business and economics knowledge and training – a set of skills for them to make a difference in not only their lives but the future of their mother land.
Choson Exchange had come a long way and its stories would inspire many other entrepreneurs worldwide to take the chance and the leap of faith into the market and strive to make a name for themselves in this challenging yet rewarding environment.