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People's lottery: Pyongyang's first Web site
The Web site offers four different languages -- Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese  

From Jaime FlorCruz
CNN Beijing Bureau Chief

BEIJING, China -- Welcome to, purportedly the first Web site operated out of North Korea.

The site is the brainchild of South Korean entrepreneur, Kim Beom-Hoon, who says he convinced Pyongyang that perhaps the best way to create a buzz in the isolationist country is to host a people's lottery -- one where winners from around the world can receive 100 percent of the pot.

"Most of those who buy the lotto are poor people, but winners only get 30 percent of the jackpot. So I explained that, since there is no tax in North Korea, we could develop lotto on-line and serve the people of the world," Kim said.

Lotto backers say they will make money from bank interest.

Incredulous? Kim promises full disclosure: "People around the world will be able to watch lotto draws live on the Internet. Everyone can see the result."

Betters may put in one to ten U.S. dollars each time, charged online against their credit cards.

Kim says lottery backers are still debating whether to limit the size of bets.

"We think it's not right for people to lose too much money."

'Cynics can relax'

Kim says he and his North Korean partners are decent entrepreneurs. The credit card clearance system is based in Malaysia with registered capital of $3 billion.

Kim says making money is not Pyongyang's over-riding goal.

"They want partnerships. They want North and South Korean engineers to work together. And if the project is for the people, they are willing to do it."

The entrepreneurs also hope to sell North Korean goods and promote tourism through the Net.

When the lottery online takes off, Pyongyang would experience a touch of capitalism -- a ten percent commission of the joint venture company's profit.

The entrepreneurial move comes as Pyongyang says it wants more joint ventures and cooperation with other countries and international organizations.

In recent years, North Korea has opened diplomatic ties with a series of European and other countries and called for more foreign trade while guarding its totalitarian regime from outside criticism.


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