Hanoi's ability to retain one-party rule, strict censorship, minimal dissent and a top-down system of control after integrating into the global economy is an attractive prospect for North Korea, according to analysts. If Pyongyang were to ever transition into a market economy, it will likely continue to prioritize regime stability — loosening restrictions on areas such as currency and migration could be politically destabilizing for Kim Jong Un's rule.
To gauge lessons for its own future, North Korea has long studied communist governments such as China and Vietnam, countries with state-managed growth that have integrated into the world economy. As Hanoi prepares to host the second U.S.-North Korea summit in late February, experts believe Kim may be more inclined toward Vietnamese-style liberalization.
Vietnam's Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh traveled to Pyongyang on Tuesday following North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho's visit to Hanoi last year. That trip was reportedly aimed at studying Vietnam's reforms, according to Yonhap News Agency. Such visits hark back to earlier years such as 2012, when a North Korean delegation visited the Vietnamese province of Thai Binh to examine rural development.