Since the so-called ‘6.28 Policy’ (‘On the establishing of a new economic management system in our own style’) was made public at the end of last month, the people of North Korea have been exchanging a range of opinions on the subject. Interestingly, those who are hopeful that the 6.28 Policy will bring reform and opening are even using the phrases ‘Vietnamese-style’ and ‘Chinese-style’.
A source from North Hamkyung Province told Daily NK today, “Following some pretty significant economy-related events like certain orders from comrade Kim Jong Eun, Central Party cadres getting training abroad and workers being sent abroad too, people have started hoping for change more than ever.”
“Nowadays it is not just the cadres, it is the ordinary people as well who are arguing over reform and opening,” the source went on. “This is definitely different to when the General was still with us, a time when we couldn’t even say the word ‘opening’.”
According to the source, the main debating point for many ordinary people is whether North Korea will follow the ‘Chinese’ or ‘Vietnamese’ approach to reform. Most North Korean people, having seen Kim Jong Il go to China and exchanges and cooperation over 15 years, are well aware that Chinese reform and opening has been a success; however, at the start of last year the Central Party ordered provincial Party cadres to take time to research Vietnamese reform and opening, so some people in broader society also came to know a bit about it.
The North Korean people are particularly interested in the Vietnamese experience now and are even using the words ‘Vietnamese reforms’, the source added, explaining that the reformist method China has advocated involves handing a lot of authority to officials in the economic sphere, whereas in Vietnam it is believed to be Party cadres that are leading the reform and opening drive.
However, a lot of people also agree that it is important to wait and see what happens with the ‘6.28 Policy’ and whether it will bring state-led reform and opening, the source added, saying, “Many years have passed since they told us this, and nothing actually happened.”
Elsewhere, the source reacted coolly to questions about the recent purging of Lee Young Ho.
“All the news about Kim Jong Eun becoming a ‘marshal’ has been on the TV and radio, so quite a lot of people don’t even know the news about Lee Young Ho,” he said. “Not only that; everyone is totally focused on economic problems, so almost nobody has any interest in Lee.”