THE COMMUNIST STATE OF NORTH KOREA: A CAPITALIST SOCIETY
Wev, Jonathan K.
Weiner, Robert J.
Barma, Naazneen H., University of Denver
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The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a communist country dominated by one political party that controls the economy and all functions in the state. As a result of the dysfunctional elements of the socialist economic model, and amid the loss of a major benefactor in the USSR and the untimely occurrence of natural disasters, the incredibly severe famine that occurred in the mid-1990s served to disrupt many of the institutions vital to North Korea’s Stalinist state structure and command economy. Today, the effects of this breakdown are evident in the development and maintenance of two additional economies within North Korea, in addition to the official communist command economy. First, is the jangmadang (market ground) economy, where every day North Korean citizens buy and sell commodities in the many markets scattered across the country, which has produced a generation that has grown more capitalist in nature and less dependent and in awe of the state. The second is an elite economy, in which North Korean political and military elites compete for access to state resources in order to run quasi-private enterprises in pursuit of hard currency. The elites’ antagonistic relationship among themselves is complicated by a symbiotic relationship with the state, because each side needs the other for opportunities for revenue accumulation. In summary, North Korea is much less communist than the regime would like to admit.
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