The Rason Trade what you ask? Rason is a special economic zone of North Korea where they get to play dress up with capitalism. As part of this they used to have a yearly Trade Fair to get prospective Guinness over their sanction ridden border.
And of course me being me meant that I simply had to come visit and indeed run a stall here.
What the Rason?
Alas sanctions and a lack of want for going too capitalist has somewhat retarded the Rason SEZ, but it is still a very interesting place to go and officially the only place in the DPRK that is completely visa free.
The Rason Trade Fair
The Rason Trade Fair is something that is held every August in Rason and where companies and businesses are invited to come and either make a stand, or do a bit of networking.
Young Pioneer Tours, my company were the first such company to offer this, despite what my partner of the time Michael Spavor and Paektu Cultural Exchange had to say about things. In the end on this tour at least we decided to run this as a joint-venture between YPT and PCE.
Operating a stall at the Rason Trade Fair
Operating a stall at the Rason Trade Fair was not without its difficult and indeed we needed a reason to be there.l In the end we went down the Paektu Cultural Exchange route and had things like lamps, lights and keychains to sell or give away.
I largely manned the stall, which was pretty interesting in itself and led to a lot of people watching. In essence this show was much more about Koreans in Rason being able to buy consumer goods than it was any high level diplomacy and match making.
It was though at least very interesting to see what companies, no doubt fearless about sanctions where present ins the country, with most being Chinese and a few being Russian.
The social scene at the Rason Trade Fair
Having many delegates from around the world meant that there were at least a lot of interesting people in the country, which made the social scene that bit better.
It was though in essence not all that much different t a regular tour of Rason, with us indulging in Rason street food exploring Rajin and of course going to the Emperor, or rather Imperial Hotel and Casino.
Overall though I am glad I took part on the Rason Trade Fair, not least because it was fairly well the only successful trip Paektu Cultural Exchange and Michael Spavor actually ran, before the trouble they were to get into – even if the majority of clients were from Young Pioneer Tours.
It also embodied Rason as indeed one of my truly favorite places to visit in Korea and indeed one I intent to go right back to as soon as the country opens.