01/29/2008, 00.00
NORTH KOREA
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Pyongyang opens its first e-shop

Internet users can now access North Korea’s official business website, Chollima, to buy farm equipment, naturopathic remedies, motorcycles, submarines, weapons and propaganda material. Given the poverty of North Korea’s population, everything is for foreigners only.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – North Korea has opened its first online shop to promote foreign trade and the export of North Korean-made products. It did so by simply adding a page for e-shopping to its official website’s business section, Chollima.

The shop's 14 product categories include farm equipment, naturopathic remedies, motorcycles, submarines, weapons and munitions. A special subsection is devoted to cartoons, usually destined for the South Korean and Japanese markets. The website says it accepts credit cards.

The e-shop is a joint venture with a company in Shenyang, China.

After selecting items and clicking the ‘order’ button, the China-based administrator will then contact customers for their credit card number to process the order.

The Chollima website also gives a prominent place to propaganda material: posters, flags, and the writings of ‘dear leader’ Kim Jong-il and ‘eternal (but dead) president’ Kim Il-Sung.

This is the first time that North Korea has operated a globally-accessible online shopping mall.

The Chollima website also includes North Korean news and economic and trade policies in Korean, English and Chinese for foreign customers and investors.

It is hoped that the novelty might be appreciated by North Korea’s many foreign friends since very few North Koreans will ever be able to see, let alone buy goods online since about 80 per cent of them are surviving on just a dollar a day.

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