It started with goats
Krahun began in 1999 at the invitation of local North Korean officials to start a goat farm and aid the country’s agricultural development. In seizing this rare window of opportunity, Krahun became one of the first businesses in the region owned and operated by westerners. Though the founders were from different parts of the world (Australia, Canada, Switzerland, U.S.), and from different professional backgrounds (programmers, engineers, chefs, veterinarians, businessmen), they were bound by the common vision of engaging citizens of North Korea.
With a green light from officials, Krahun set off to start a goat farm in the DPRK. First, it needed land to raise goats, eventually settling on a location outside downtown Rajin in the neighborhood known as Shinhae Dong. The untouched landscape was stunning, with calm eastern waters on one side and densely wooded mountains on the other. But the wild area lacked basic infrastructure, including power, water and even a path to the main road. Krahun hired over a hundred workers from outside the special zone to help build the necessary infrastructure, slowly transforming the area into a large headquarters. A road was built; power lines and a transformer installed; piping laid to connect to a nearby spring; and structures slowly built one by one.
Krahun soon learned that what was good for Krahun was also good for its local neighbors. Nearby villagers were able to connect to Krahun’s newly installed power lines for electricity to keep their homes lit at night. The new pipes became a valuable source of water for villages down the newly built road. Slowly, barren land became less barren as new homes began to appear down the road from the headquarters. The new infrastructure also spurred other developments as Krahun connected with outside organizations who built a nursery/kindergarten and a health clinic just down the road to serve the local villagers. What was once a wild mountainside eventually became a developed enclave of locals with access to much-needed electricity, water, health services and early education.
In addition to its business ventures, Krahun has sought to reach out and serve its surrounding community. In its early years, when the country experienced a food crisis, Krahun began a feeding program for children, starting with goat milk that eventually expanded into soy milk, serving approximately 7000 children a day at its peak. After several years, the company donated the soy milk operation to the local government, which continues to this day making critical deliveries to school children. More recently, in August 2015 the region faced the heaviest rains in many years, causing severe flooding and extensive damage. Lives were lost, homes destroyed, schools left in ruins, and crops flooded weeks before harvest – the loss was far reaching. With loss at its footsteps, Krahun jumped into action, focusing first on critical food relief in the immediate aftermath of the floods. With its employees working overtime, Krahun supplied food aid daily such as rice, cooking oil and protein food, processing the latter two at its own facilities. Staff members drove to the damaged areas to help with clean up efforts, clearing debris and mud. With many locals unable to access and store clean water, Krahun ordered and delivered 1,000 fifty liter water containers to distribute to those in need.
Krahun continues in the present committed to its goal first forged decades ago in the 90s: to engage the people of North Korea. For the past two decades, ever since the founders first visited the country, they have seen the region develop and change dramatically, and it remains Krahun’s goal to play a role in that continued development ultimately for the benefit of the North Korean people.
Our name “Krahun” – pronounced like “crown” – is derived from the combination of 3 key cities in the northeast: Kraskino (Russia), Hunchun (China), and Rason (DPRK).
These cities signify the importance of the region for the future of the DPRK and underlines Krahun’s commitment to playing a critical role in the region’s development.