North Korea’s Market Reforms

In North Korea in the mid-1990s, a devastating famine induced by government policies killed maybe 10 percent of the population. Stories emerged of cannibalism. Though localized famines may still be occurring, things seem to be changing for the better. Apparently, North Korea has adopted some market reforms, and it is showing up in satellite photographs as increased light emissions.

Christopher Wallace, in a July 31, 2017 article on Fox News, pointed out that government-approved markets doubled since 2010, and now employ about 1 million (of a total population of 25 million). “Some North Korean farmers are now allowed to keep a percentage of what they produce rather than give it all over to inefficient state-run enterprises for redistribution.” And “about 40 percent of North Korea’s population now works in some form of private enterprise.” Consequently, North Korea’s economy grew at 3.9% in 2016, the fastest in 17 years. Wallace reported that Sokeel Park of Liberty in North Korea said that “North Korea has gone from a very tightly controlled state socialist economy to basically a marketizing economy.” Apart from alleviating desperate poverty and hunger, the market reforms may lead to political change as well.