The North Korean authorities have been on the move to strengthen recent market regulation policies.
The 6th edition of “NK In & Out,” a recently released newsletter by the Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights (NKnet, Representative Han Gi Hong), relayed an order decreed by the North Korean authorities for the operation of markets every 10 days (on the 1st, 11th, and 21st of the month) starting next year, and introduced as an example some Pyongyang-based markets that only open once a month (on the 10th of every month) starting from last month.
According to the newsletter, an inside source in Yangkang Province reported, “The news of the ‘10-day market system’ starting next year emerged from lectures for government officials.”
A source from Shinuiju also said, “From November, the market maintenance office guards have been relaying the news of the conversion of permanent markets into markets that will operate much less frequently to the civilians.”
A North Hamkyung source said, “At a recent meeting of the People’s Unit, I heard that a new market management policy will come into effect starting next year. However, this is nothing new; all it is saying is that the jangmadang will be eliminated and converted into farmers’ markets, starting next year.”
The sources then pointed out that while the resistance of North Korean citizens will be strong, the possibility of actual policy implementation is deemed low.
The sources unanimously declared, “Similar news of the conversion of markets to the 10-day system or farmers’ markets began to circulate widely at the beginning of the year, but it was not carried out. If the jangmadang are converted into farmers’ markets right now, a riot will result.”
They also retorted, and expressed skepticism regarding the regulation of the market itself, “Most of the products that are circulated in the markets are connected to officials, so they will not actively step forward to regulate the markets and forsake their own gains.”
The “NK In & Out” newsletter relayed that irregular trends have not yet taken place in the markets in North Korea’s major regions. One Chinese trader who visited Dandong, China on the 10th said, “Markets are operating as normal, daily, in Pyongyang, Eunsan, Pyongsung, and Shinuiju.”
He added, “Among the rumors I have heard recently, there was one that private trade itself would be strictly prohibited from November 10th, but this news has been circulating for a while, so people are uncertain whether this will actually happen either.”
The newsletter released a rumor that graffiti and flyers saying “Topple Kim Jong Il” were seen on the morning of the September 9th National Foundation Day among North Korean citizens.
With regard to this, a Shinuiju source stated, “According to stories from merchants who have recently come from Pyongyang, the graffiti could be found near Chungsung Bridge on Unification Street in Pyongyang on September 9th. Flyers were passed out in the markets.”
He added, “The flyers also said, ‘What is socialism?’ ‘How can officials eat well while people starve?’ and ‘Let’s end the Kim Jong Il era’.”