It’s the Jangmadang, Stupid

The ways in which private economic activities are replacing the traditional role of the command economy in North Korea are an ever-increasing source of interest for Korea watchers.

Speaking at a seminar in Seoul this morning, one expert on the subject, Yang Un Chul of the Sejong Institute, revealed more.

“According to information from the Bank of Korea, North Korea’s economic growth rate since the March of Tribulation has recorded a surprising 6.2%,” Yang explained. “When people say North Korea, you probably think of poverty and food problems, but when you see pictures and videos of the jangmadang, there are lots of expensive goods. As long as you have money, you can buy both the essentials and luxury goods.”

Revealing the results of interviews with defectors in their early and mid 20s, Yang continued, “These people do not have any expectations of the state. One defector’s family made a living by selling homemade cream bread for 500 North Korean won each. The defector said that with rice costing 3,000 won per kilo in the jangmadang, people were queuing up to buy it.”

“With the introduction of the market system to North Korea, as long as you have Yuan, Dollars etc, you can buy absolutely anything,” he added, which also means that “while the market has been replacing the government’s role, the power of the government has been shrinking.”

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