Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Coming soon to North Korea: liberal reforms?

An excellent two-paragraph summary of North Korea's non-military, non-diplomatic history over the last few years, via NK Econ Watch:

“Right now, North Korean officials are busy blaming each other for the failed currency reform and Pak, who spearheaded the revaluation, is believed to have been sacked,” said a diplomatic source in Beijing. “Markets have come to a grinding halt following the currency revaluation and prices have soared,” the source said. It seems North Korea hoped to stabilize prices through the currency reform and then credit the achievement to Kim Jong-il’s third son and heir apparent Jong-un to consolidate his grip on power, but this flopped, the source added.

Some North Korea watchers in China predict that the regime may perform a U-turn back to timid market reforms now that Pak, who led the crusade against capitalism, has been fired. One North Korea expert in Beijing said, “There is a strong possibility that high-ranking North Korean officials who led the drive to crush market forces since 2004 will be removed from office, while policies will shift toward market reforms starting in the second half of this year.”

Edit: It may already be happening.

Edit II: Oh yeah, it's on. The person in charge of Office 39, whose most important duties are "drug-trafficking, sales of weapons and missile technology, and the production of counterfeit US dollar bills," has been sacked.

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