Risky Business

Chung Sung-jun / Getty Images

Worker's paradise? A South Korean-funded watch factory in Kaesong is one of North Korea's few functioning businesses

A few years ago, Chris Devonshire-Ellis, a Beijing-based business and tax consultant, was in the bar at Pyongyang's Koryo Hotel when he ran into another foreigner. "The guy's name was Vlad," Devonshire-Ellis says. "He'd come from Moscow on a train to sell tractors to the North Koreans. He had all these guys around him. Turns out, they were his team of bodyguards. The North Koreans paid him in cash — 1 million in U.S. dollars — and that's why he needed the bodyguards. He was comfortable doing business with the North Koreans. He said they always paid. But I...

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