North Korea Wants To Barter Its Way Out Of Debt

Faced with sanctions over its nuclear program and a collapsed economy, North Korea wants to barter its way out of some debts. The Communist country has offered the Czech Republic 20 tons of ginseng as payment for its debts, reports the Financial Times. But the Czech government, instead, suggests North Korea repay its debts with zinc.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And today's last word in business is ginseng.

North Korea has offered the Czech Republic 20 tons of ginseng as payment for some of its debts. But according to the Financial Times, the Prague government doesn't want an enormous shipment of the herb, which is reputed to have memory enhancing properties. Instead, the Czechs suggest North Korea repay its debts with zinc, which is mined in North Korea and can be resold on international markets.

North Korea's debt dates back to the era of communist Czechoslovakia, when repayment in barter was common.

And that's the business news on MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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