North Korea Offers Venezuela Financial Advice at National Bank Meeting

Kim Jong-un and NIcolas Maduro
STR/AFP/Getty Images/Wil Riera/Bloomberg

North Korea’s ambassador to Venezuela, Ri Sung Gil, offered the fellow leftist nation financial advice at a discussion hosted by the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) last week. On Monday, North Korean state media praised Venezuela for showcasing works complimentary of the tyrannical Kim family at a recent book fair.

According to BCV’s official site, Ri told the bank’s officials “that the government of the United States has expansionist interests in order to acquire the riches of strategic nations like Venezuela and North Korea, which have chosen a socialist economic and social model.”

The site quotes Ri as saying, “socialism always has its enemies because it does not defend the interests of the rich and influential, who are the minority in the world. Imperialism always wants to limit economic and military growth in progressive nations.”

Ri warned that “the United States will not leave Venezuela in peace so long as it cannot control its natural resources.”

The BCV event in question was titled “The U.S. Blockade on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” and hosted by “the Movement of Revolutionary Workers of the Central Bank of Venezuela.” A statement from the bank suggested the talk was necessary to learn from “the North Korean experience in its process of self-determination of political, economic, and social sovereignty before the military and interventionist threats from hegemonic nations like the United States.”

BCV director José Salamat Khan Fernández told his workers that they “must learn from the socioproductive experience of North Korea … we as a people can begin a formative process to reindustrialize the economy of the nation and depend less and less on other hegemonic countries.”

The economy of North Korea is almost entirely subsidized by China, despite the Kim regime’s adoption of a philosophy it calls juche, or “self-reliance.”

Venezuela’s economy, meanwhile, is in freefall largely due to the damage the socialist system has done to the national currency, the bolívar. The economic crisis is exacerbated by years of Venezuela buying the influence of neighbors like Cuba with free oil that could have netted it significant profits. Venezuela boasts the world’s largest oil reserves, yet the value of the nation’s standard minimum wage has fallen to under $2 per month.

The two nations’ shared ideology and close relationship to a third ally — the communist Castro regime in Cuba — have brought the two closer together. On Monday, North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) applauded the government of Venezuela for featuring “a Korean book and photo exhibition” at a book fair in the capital, Caracas, that praised “the revolutionary exploits of President Kim Il Sung, leader Kim Jong Il and respected Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un.”

KCNA claimed that Venezuelans in Caracas told them of the display: “We knew well how false the propaganda of the West was … The DPRK where the people enjoy the most civilized and happiest life is genuine socialism and a paradise baffling human imagination.”

Venezuela’s minister of culture allegedly endorsed the North Korean propaganda, indicating that the president of the favorable materials to the Kims was at the behest of the Venezuelan government, not private individuals who subscribe to Marxist ideology.

North Korea’s ambassador to Venezuela, Ri Sung Gil, regularly participates in government events. In January, for example, Ri traveled to Yaracuy for an event celebrating the birthday of late dictator Kim Jong-il. At the time, Ri celebrated that the two nations “have agreements in different areas of the economy, culture, sports, ecology, and science, among others.”

Last year, Venezuela’s socialists held a commemoration ceremony to honor Kim Il-sung, the late founder of the North Korean dictatorship.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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