Friday, June 11, 2010

NYT on the on-going misery caused by the Great Currency Obliteration of 2009

From the New York Times:
North Koreans are used to struggle and heartbreak. But the Nov. 30 currency devaluation, apparently an attempt to prop up a foundering state-run economy, was for some the worst disaster since a famine that killed hundreds of thousands in the mid-1990s.

Interviews in the past month with eight North Koreans who recently left their country — a prison escapee, illegal traders, people in temporary exile to find work in China, the traveling wife of an official in the ruling Workers’ Party — paint a haunting portrait of desperation inside North Korea, a nation of 24 million people, and of growing resentment toward its erratic leader, Kim Jong-il.

What seems missing — for now, at least — is social instability. Widespread hardship, popular anger over the currency revaluation and growing political uncertainty as Mr. Kim seeks to install his third son as his successor have not hardened into noticeable resistance against the government.
Deep-rooted disgruntlement over the obliteration of millions' life savings bubbling to the surface as public resentment? Not to toot my own horn, but... you don't say? Though I have to admit we're not yet at the tipping point. Obviously. And if what this part of the article says is true...
At least two of those interviewed in China hewed to the official propaganda line that North Korea was a victim of die-hard enemies, its impoverishment a Western plot, its survival threatened by the United States, South Korea and Japan.

South Korea’s charge that North Korea sank one of its warships, the Cheonan, in March was just part of the plot, the party official’s wife said.

“That’s why we have weapons to protect ourselves,” she said while visiting relatives in northern China — and earning spare cash as a waitress. “Our enemies are trying to hit us from all sides, and that’s why we lack electricity and good infrastructure. North Korea must keep its doors locked.”
... then we may still be a ways off. But I'm not sure I buy that, though. The currency obliteration is a mistake owned by the Pyongyang regime, and if they have a string of such incidents, the blame-the-outside-world excuse won't work anymore.

Bear in mind also that that's a party official's wife, and she may be more inclined to parrot the party line. But the fact that she is in China to earn money may be a harbinger of what I had warned of before: the local party officials who lost out in a big way because of the currency revaluation and who now feel less incentive to see the regime continue.

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