TTAC's Believe It Or Not: Moonies Abandon North Korean Car Joint Venture

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
ttac s believe it or not moonies abandon north korean car joint venture

Reuters calls it “one of the more bizarre joint ventures in car-making,” and it is coming to an end. South Korea’s Unification Church, better known as the Moonies, is giving up its investment in the one and only carmaker in North Korea, Pyeonghwa Motors. “Giving up” is carefully chosen: The church will walk away from the business, and donate its 70 percent stake to North Korea.

The envy of every chaebol, Sun Myung Moon’s church owns a sprawling conglomerate of companies. It owns everything from United Press International to a company that supplies most of America’s sushi restaurants. The North Korean car JV was set up in 2002. It produces what Reuters calls “models based on ageing Fiat SpA designs as well as those of Brilliance China Automotive Holdings.”

Before Sun Myung Moon died in September aged 92, he made a will to give back the auto business with the North, a source told Reuters. It sounds like a good move.

Pyeonghwa is a prime example for overcapacity. Its website says the 10.76 million square foot factory has the capacity to produce 10,000 vehicles a year. It lists sales as 1,873 vehicles in 2011.

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5 of 9 comments
  • KalapanaBlack KalapanaBlack on Nov 27, 2012

    The dude on the billboard looks mighty happy about his recycled Fiat. Maybe it's the sun glaring in his eyes and/or the apparently altitude. In America, there would be so many asterisks about the car not actually flying, "DO NOT ATTEMPT," etc.

  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Nov 27, 2012

    Sounds like a good business move for the Moonies. Let the commies prop up this loser instead of the capitalists.

  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Nov 27, 2012

    At the top above the car it says "Expressing strong Pyeonghwa car!" Ha.

  • Sector 5 Sector 5 on Nov 27, 2012

    Strange sure.. I wonder if this was a pilot project to find out just how bad the NK brainwash relates to potential partnership with the south? Reunification does happen - ask Germany.

    • Ranwhenparked Ranwhenparked on Nov 27, 2012

      I think economic development of the north was one of the goals, for both sides. Think about it this way, East Germany was the wealthiest and most developed of all the Eastern bloc countries and reconstructing it after reunification nearly bankrupted Germany - and the former east still lags the former west in living standards and per capita wealth. The situation in North Korea is many, many times worse. Even if reunification was at all possible, there's no way the south could ever afford it the way things are right now. But, if the north could be stealthily and covertly developed through goodwill projects like this, the whole prospect might become more realistic. I believe that was the thinking behind investments like this anyway, but as you can see, it's basically like trying to pee out a forest fire.