A Footage of a North Korean Jangmadang Captured by Asahi TV

[imText1]Asahi TV of Japan broadcasted on the evening of October 9th recent video footage of the market which is thriving across North Korea. The released footage was filmed by underground journalist, Lee Jun, who operates in North Korea.

The footage captures the scenes of local people making transactions at the markets in Pyongyang, Chongjin, and Hamheung.

Filmed last August, the scene from the Sunkyo market in Pyongyang with its bustling crowd was distinguishable from the markets in the other parts of the country. Many different kinds of goods were available at the market.

Women’s dresses being sold at the market were trimmed with lace, and had floral design in splendid color. There were also clothed mannequins with heart-shaped price tags. If customers wanted to try on clothes, they could do so on the scene.

Storekeepers at grocery stores were wearing aprons and kept their stores clean and tidy.

Some female peddlers were engaging themselves in business at places other than the markets permitted by the state such as bus stations, where there were many people. Among the peddlers were those wearing the badge of Kim Il Sung. Around parks or high-class apartments, there appeared small-scale markets where people could buy fruit such as apples or watermelons or snacks like doughnuts.

A 35-year old defector, Han Young Ju who lived in Pyongyang until 2003 said, “Ordinary people frequently visit the Sunkyo market. Judging by the video footage, I could see that the market has become more crowded, as the number of people engaged in business without permission has increased.”

[imText2]“Back in 2003, the market was very clean because there were managers who kept the place in order and regularly directed cleanup activity. But, now, the place seems to be out of control because too many people are gathering around the market to do business,” the defector said, adding, “As I look at the types of clothes or shoes these people are wearing, I think the living conditions are worse off than before.”

Jiro Ishimaru, the chief editor of Asia Press International, said in his interview with Asahi TV, “We can see that the market economy is developing in Pyongyang.” The chief editor continued that, “nowadays, the North Korean people engage themselves in economic activities in order to improve their standard of living.”

“For the past ten years, market economy has been spreading into North Korea,” he explained, “and its influence has been reshaping the country to the point that the state authorities cannot stop it.”

A market in Chongjin of North Hamkyung province did not look as vigorous as did the Sungyu market in Pyongyang. People in the market in Chongjin are wearing shabby clothes compared to their counterparts in Pyongyang. Some women engaged in business at the market were notable for having baseball caps with visors.

There were many Kotjebi (street children) roaming around the markets in the Hamheung areas.

The footage featured a scene where the cameraman spoke with a homeless family. They were picking up usable stuff in a dumpster adjacent to the market. Lately, the number of families who were driven out of their homes into the street because of debt has been rising in the county.

The footage also showed a Kotjebi singing and begging for money, and an old man lying down in front of the railroad station but later being pulled along by a superintendent. Jiro Ishimaru explained about the rising number of homeless families, saying, “It seems that we are observing ‘bankruptcy,’ one of many phenomena of capitalism occurring in North Korea.”