North Has Two Capitalist ‘Super-markets’

Radio Free Asia reported today that there are at least two places in North Korea today with markets large enough to serve nearly 100,000 customers per day.

RFA cited research conducted by a research group under the National Endowment for Democracy which looked at 50 markets in North Korea, their location, size and type of goods being traded.

President Gershman, who released the results of the research, moved to stress their importance, saying, “North Korean markets are not just a place to trade products but a place to exchange information. The market can be seen as the birthplace of North Korean civil society”.

According to the piece, all the characteristics of a capitalist market appear to be in place or emerging; merchants deal in usage rights, for example, and an informal banking system exists to serve them.

The survey was conducted via in-depth interviews with merchants coming in and out of China and among defectors settled in South Korea; more detailed information was not revealed out of concerns for security.