August 20, 2010 08:57
North Korea asked Hungary to write off more than 90 percent of its outstanding debt when the financial crisis hit in 2008, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.
It quoted a Hungarian government official as saying, "They asked [us] to take good consideration of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's current economic difficulties and asked for cancellation of over 90 percent of the total" during a meeting in Pyongyang in November 2008.
This was an "indication of the secretive totalitarian regime's financial distress," the daily speculated. Hungary agreed to cancel part of the North's debt but not 90 percent.
The North's external debt amounts to about US$1.2 billion, two-thirds of it to former communist countries. How much the North owes Hungary is not known, but it got into most of its debt to the East European nation before the end of the Soviet era.
Earlier, the North asked Czech Republic to write off 95 percent of its debt of about $10 million and offered to settle the remaining five percent in ginseng.
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