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Church Joins N. Korean Auto Venture

January 17, 2000

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ The Unification Church of Rev. Sun Myung Moon plans to invest $300 million in a joint venture to build Fiat cars in North Korea, church officials said Monday.

The church’s Pyonghwa Motors and North Korea’s state-run Ryonbong Corp. tentatively agreed last year to build car assembly lines in Nampo on North Korea’s southwestern coast.

Under a contract with Italian automaker Fiat SpA, 10,000 cars will be assembled each year, for both domestic and overseas markets, church officials said. Production is expected to start next year.

Pyonghwa Motors was founded last April for the project. It will hold a 70 percent stake in the joint venture for cash investment while Ryonbong will own the other 30 percent for offering land.

The Unification Church has so far invested $10 million in North Korea. It runs a hotel, a restaurant and a construction material trading company in Pyongyang.

The church was founded in 1954 and claims millions of followers. Moon heads a multibillion-dollar international business empire, which includes the Washington Times newspaper and Bridgeport University in Connecticut.

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