South Korea's top business leaders, including Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong, will accompany President Moon Jae-in to Pyongyang for the upcoming inter-Korean summit on September 18.
The other members of the entourage include SK Group chairman Choi Tae-won, LG Group chairman Koo Gwang-mo, Hyundai Motor vice chairman Kim Yong-hwan, Hyundai Group chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun, POSCO chairman Choi Jung-woo, Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Chairman Park Yong-man, and Korea Employers Federation (KEF) Chairman Sohn Kyung-shik. Hyundai Motor vice chairman Chung Eui-sun does not accompany them due to his meeting with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
According to industry insiders, their visit to North Korea is unlikely to lead to any immediate investment in the North in light of the international sanctions against the North. It is close to impossible to invest in North Korea without improvement in the relations between Washington and Pyongyang. In addition, the South Korean companies cannot but be cautious as they rely heavily on exports and their business can be significantly affected in the event of strained Washington-Pyongyang relations.
Moreover, collaborations in major business fields such as electronics, information technology and automobiles cannot but be limited due to the lack of infrastructure and skilled workers in the North. According to experts, economic cooperation led by smaller firms is currently more feasible than conglomerate-level cooperation.