North Korea’s economic integration and growth potential

Jong Wha Lee, Ju Hyun Pyun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The growth projections based on cross-country evidence show that North Korea could achieve higher economic growth in the long run if it embarks on substantial policy reforms toward a market-oriented and open economy. Using an empirical gravity model of trade and direct investment, we forecast that, when the two Koreas pursue economic integration and cooperation without military conflicts, North Korea’s trade with South Korea can increase by up to 36 percent of North Korea’s GDP and its foreign direct investment (FDI) flows from South Korea by up to 6 percent of GDP. Overall, by promoting trade and FDI integration with South Korea, North Korea can boost its GDP growth by approximately 3 percentage points per year. Combined with a market-oriented reform, the North Korean economy could grow by approximately 4.7 percent per year over the coming decades. Conversely, if more rigid sanctions imposed on North Korea become effective, its trade and investment will decrease and its GDP growth rate is expected to fall by approximately 2 percentage points per year.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-325
Number of pages25
JournalAsian Economic Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
*Lee (corresponding author): Department of Economics, Korea University, 145 Anam-Ro, Seongbuk-Gu, Seoul 02841, Korea. Email: Pyun: Korea University Business School, 145 Anam-Ro, Seongbuk-Gu, Seoul 02841, Korea. The authors thank Creina Day, Tomo-hiko Inui, Warwick McKibbin, Marcus Noland and Deok Ryong Yoon for their helpful comments on an earlier draft. This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea Grant funded by the Korean Government (NRF-2008-362-A00001) and the Australian Research Council Grant DP150103821.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 East Asian Economic Association and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.


  • Economic growth
  • Foreign direct investment
  • Integration
  • North korea
  • Trade

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development


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