Saturday, June 19, 2010

North Korea allowing free markets again?

The Washington Post is reporting that North Korea is allowing private markets to open in order to avoid famine:
Bowing to reality, the North Korean government has lifted all restrictions on private markets — a last-resort option for a leadership desperate to prevent its people from starving.

In recent weeks, according to North Korea observers and defector groups with sources in the country, Kim Jong Il's government admitted its inability to solve the current food shortage and encouraged its people to rely on private markets for the purchase of goods. Though the policy reversal will not alter daily patterns — North Koreans have depended on such markets for more than 15 years — the latest order from Pyongyang abandons a key pillar of a central, planned economy.
Such a move would undermine their control, but it would also mitigate the growing anger among the peasantry and even low-level apparatchiki who lost their life savings in the disastrous currency reform and then saw their best way to get food vanish as the old currency disappeared.

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