DPRK to tighten market restrictions in 2009

According to Yonhap (hat tip to Oliver):

North Korean authorities are clamping down on private markets that have cropped up across the country, citing concerns that such business activities can compromise centralized control, a local civic group said Thursday.

Good Friends claimed in its recent newsletter that the government will allow private markets to operate only once a month beginning in 2009. Markets operate on the first, 11th and 21st days of the month at present.

In North Korea’s capital and largest city of Pyongyang, such measures have been implemented since October, said Good Friends.

The Seoul-based relief group said North Korean authorities expressed concerns that merchants who make a living by selling goods at these markets could contest or circumvent decisions and rules made by the state.

The markets have become an integral part of the local landscape, as they are used by many people to supplement their meager state rations.

Quoting an anonymous North Korean official, the group said the government’s ultimate goal is to shut down the markets altogether.

Although I am sure North Korea’s leadership does not enjoy competing against thousands of their uppity subjects (entrepreneurs) in the production of consumer goods and services, the scale of the DPRK’s marketization over the last decade is simply too large and ingrained in the social fabric to be eliminated now.  Preventing entrepreneurs from emerging into a powerful political force (and making sure they pay their “taxes”) while maintaining control of the economy’s “commanding heights” seems a more likely policy direction for the North Korean government at this point.

As an aside, I have located dozens of North Korea’s markets (including the largest in Pyongsong) on Google Earth (Download here).

Link to the full article below:
N. Korea clamps down on private markets


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