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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 September, 2004, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
UK lawyer opens firm in Pyongyang
Advertising in North Korea (credit Roger Barrett)
North Korea implemented economic reforms in 2002
Betting on the further liberalisation of North Korea's economy, a UK lawyer is opening a law firm in Pyongyang to advise investors doing business there.

Hay, Kalb Associates, which was set up by Mike Hay and the North Korean government, started business in August.

The firm offers legal advice, accounting services and help with repatriating funds from the North.

"[The North Korea government] realises they need a comfort level on the part of foreign investors," Mr Hay said.

'Opportunities'

North Korea is currently locked in dispute with its neighbours and the US over its nuclear programme.

Investors there have to wade through red tape, put up with power cuts and surveillance, amid widespread criticism of North Korea's human rights record.

Kim Il-sung square
People think it's a dirt track country in terms of law but it's not
Mr Hay, Hay, Kalb Associates

Some observers also wonder if money really can be made there.

But two years ago, the country did introduce economic reforms, including price and wage liberalisation.

Mr Hay said there are more reforms to come and that he is already advising a Western European firm though he declined to give its name. He added that there were rewards for those prepared to take the risk.

Areas of interest include tourism, mineral extraction and energy software.

Hay, Kalb Associates employs about 12 North Korean lawyers, all graduates of the Kim Il-sung University.

The company's offices will be located in Kim Il-sung square in the central government complex.

Mr Hay, whose contacts with the North date back to 1998, said the level of legal expertise in the country is high.

"People think it's a dirt track country in terms of law but it's not," he told foreign correspondents in Seoul.




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