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Report: North Korea Seeking President Trump's Help With Casino Plan

Country Reportedly Wants A Path Cleared For Creating Tourist Hub

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Amid the dizzying array of news surrounding the Trump Administration these days is a surprising report out of South Korea that says its neighbor to the north wants Trump’s help with a casino.

According to the English version of the Seoul newspaper Donga Ilbo, Kim Yong Chol, North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un’s top aide and special envoy, “called” on Trump to “support” the nation’s tentative plan for a casino in the eastern port city of Wonsan.

Kim Yong Chol and Trump met last Friday at the White House to discuss tensions between the two countries and the president’s upcoming plan to have an historic in-person meeting with Kim Jong Un in Singapore. The preliminary sit-down held last week resulted in the now famous photos of Trump holding an over-sized letter from the North Korean leader.

While denuclearization is front and center in the headlines, at least publicly from the Trump camp, the meeting reportedly touched on the president lifting some sanctions and potentially supporting the casino project.

From the South Korean newspaper:

In his meeting with Trump at the White House, Kim Yong Chol said of North Korea’s plan to create an international tourist destination with a casino in Wonsan and ski resort in Masikryong, said a diplomatic source familiar with the matter. The Wonsan-Kalma coastal tourist area is known as one of the key projects that the North Korean leader laid out in his New Year’s address. The tourist area, if constructed, will be able to generate about 50 million U.S. dollars a year, according to the South Korean government’s estimation. This would be quite a contribution to the rogue nation’s economy given that its annual trade volume stands at mere 7 billion dollars.

It’s unclear if a casino in North Korea would be able to draw international tourists.

If the report is accurate, this wouldn’t be the first time in recent months that the country has indicated an interest in gambling in an effort to grow its economy. Last year, reports said that Kim Jong Un loosened laws pertaining to gambling on horse races amid stiffening sanctions.

Trump’s connection to casinos is well-documented. In 1990, he opened the now-defunct Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, which was one of the top casinos in America for at least a decade. His history in the East Coast gambling mecca is contested and controversial, however, thanks to Trump’s financial troubles as a casino boss. But, according to Trump, he never failed as a businessman in the seaside gambling town. He claimed in 2013 that he “never went bankrupt” and that he was “plus $10 billion” from his dealings in Atlantic City.

Photo courtesy of the White House