The South Korean government has given permission for a firm controlled by Sun Myung-Moon, head of the Unification Church, to build a car assembly plant in North Korea, officials said Thursday.
The Unification Ministry has given the green light to Pyongwha Automobile Co. to invest 54 million dollars in an assembly line in North Korea's western port of Nampo, ministry officials said. The project should be completed by December 2001.
Of the 54 million dollars, Pyongwha has already spent 6.7 million dollars on an automobile repair factory in Nampo.
Pyongwha plans to produce 13,500 versions of a 1.6-litre Fiat model, the Siena, and some 1,900 units of 2.5 and 3.0-litre models of Alfa Romeo 166 cars over the next six years. Alfa Romeo is also controlled by Fiat.
It also plans to repair and modify 4,500 second-hand cars there. The cars will be sold in North Korea and exported to China, the official said.
The Unification Church already operates a hotel in Pyongyang. Despite efforts by Pyongyang to attract investors, investment from abroad has remained negligible because of the lack of a legal framework and a market economy in the Stalinist state.