Media Output Suggests Economic Shift

The disappearance of the ‘June 28th Policy’ from public discourse inside North Korea in recent weeks has led to the suggestion in some quarters that the policy has been abandoned completely.

However, there is strong circumstantial evidence to suggest that such comments are premature. As noted by Yonhap in an article yesterday, recent days have seen multiple uses of phrases including “new management method” in the North Korean media, lending weight to the suggestion that a number of new economic measures have already been put into practice.

For example, last week on the 7th, state domestic and international radio broadcaster Chosun Central Broadcast ran a recording of a meeting of forestry workers at the People’s Palace of Culture in Pyongyang.

During the event, which was attended by high regime officials including Cabinet Prime Minister Choi Young Rim, the manager of a wooden goods manufacturer in Hamheung declared, “I will keep updating our industrial strategy and tactics in accordance with the demands of the new economic management method and give our management substance in order that we may secure the greatest possible profit and raise the productivity of investment.”

The words raise the question of whether factories such as that of the manager in question are actually acting autonomously in terms of management decisions, rather than simply taking orders from agencies higher up the food chain. If so, it would imply the implementation of new economic rules.

On a similar note, a November 9th article carried as part of a series by the Chongryon publication Choson Shinbo under the title ‘The Road to Our-style Economic Revival’ noted the introduction of a “new management method” in a piece on how Pyongyang’s No.1 Department Store has been changing in order to improve customer service.

Choson Shinbo has a history of reporting North Korean economic changes first, including the July 1st Economic Management Improvement Measures of 2001, making it one outlet for North Korea news worth keeping an eye on.

Reviewing the anecdotal evidence for the introduction of new measures, Cho Bong Hyun of Industrial Bank of Korea’s research arm told Yonhap, “The phrase ‘new economic management method’ shows that the new economic management measures that they never officially revealed have already been implemented. If their confidence in the new economic system grows, they will doubtless begin to present them as the achievements of Kim Jong Eun.”

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