If 1995 represented a baseline level of 100 for the North Korean economy, then by 2009 it had declined to 86.5 following sharp reductions in inter-Korean aid over the preceding year, according to newly released economic analysis.
The analysis, ‘Research into the State of Inter-Korean Change Seen through Statistics,’ was produced by the Sejong Institute pursuant to a request from Statistics Korea, the South Korean state statistics body.
The report incorporated ten different statistical variables, including North Korea’s estimated food and electricity production, trade and finance volumes and levels of international aid.
During the March of Tribulation, the mid-1990s famine that killed hundreds of thousands of North Koreans, the economy declined to a nadir of 70.3 (in 1998), according to the report’s findings; conversely, at the very peak of ‘Sunshine Policy’ aid deliveries in 2007, it reached a level of 104.7.
Elsewhere, North Korea’s food production had risen to 119 by 2009, while coal and electricity production had reached 107.6 and 102.2 respectively, it also reports. Conversely, steel production declined to 81.8, marine production to 63, and oil imports to 47.1.
Analyzing the situation, it goes on, “Steel and electricity production, the core of the North Korean command economy, did not change much so they could not have much of an effect. The decline of industrial facilities is serious, and due to this worn out equipment mineral production is slumping and there is never enough electrical power for smelting.”
The report notes pessimistically that current difficulties are set to continue, adding that even if North Korea embarked on root and branch reform tomorrow, in many cases it would already be too late for recovery without massive and sustained investment.
“In a society like North Korea where politics dominates everything else and the biggest impediments to state development, dictatorship and the 3rd generation succession, normal economic development is impossible,” it concludes.