north korean economy

North Korea's (not so) secret economy


Despite decades of shutting down commerce, media and, free speech, the Kim family dynasty has opened their doors to one of the most western concepts of all: capitalism. 

The "donju," or the black market capitalists who have bartered and smuggled their way to a small middle class, have been imprisoned in the past. But more recently, they have not only been tolerated, but trained. 

Western professors, marketers and accounting professionals have been allowed into the Hermit Kingdom to improve business.

Listen to the full NPR Podcast here

North Korea's Dollarization

Among the many changes and outside views infiltrating North Korean's historically hermit-like society, a new study gives insight into a strong economic shift: the dollarization of the economy. 

Measured by what households in NK will save away, the dollar and yuan are the two dominant currencies represented in savings and the black market, even surpassing the North Korean won. 

While the indices used to benchmark the changes in Asset and Currency Substitution are far from perfect, the changes in North Koreans and recent refugees seem to indicate that transformation is taking hold. 

For the full report, click here

“Everyday Life” for North Koreans highlighted on NPR

NPR’s Weekend Edition featured an interview with Liberty in North Korea’s Director of Research and Strategy Sokeel Park, who touched on what the “everyday” looks like for a North Korean.

Sokeel Park

Sokeel Park

“…with so much focus on Kim Jong Un and nuclear weapons and missile launches and these kind of things, North Korea is often just seen as a security problem, as a potentially kind of crazy or irrational dictator with missiles. And often, we miss out on the story of 24 million ordinary people, just like you and I, who are living their lives in that country. And the country is changing on the inside.”

Kim goes on to cite changes in information, a basic market economy that has been established in the country, and less-effective indoctrination of the younger generations who are increasingly fleeing the country.

For the full interview and transcript, click here: