DPRK finance chief sacked over currency revaluation

According to the Choson Ilbo:

The North Korean regime apparently sacked the Workers’ Party’s Finance Director Pak Nam-gi, letting him take the fall for the failed currency reform late last year. Pak was appointed finance director in July 2007 to oversee North Korea’s economic policies and has spent the past few years trying to root out a nascent market economy.

“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.”

Meanwhile, the new North Korean won is still plummeting against the U.S. dollar. North Korea valued the new currency to 98 won per dollar after the old won weakened to 3,500. But the new won has plunged since last month and is now being traded at between 300 and 500 won per dollar, according to people who trade goods with North Koreans.

According to the Daily NK:

In the tradition of dictatorial regimes worldwide, scapegoats have apparently also been chosen. South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo today claimed that Park Nam Ki, Director of the Planning and Financial Department of the Central Committee, has taken responsibility for the failed redenomination, which initiated a period of hyper-inflation, and been dismissed.

According to the report, Park was appointed to the top economic position in the North Korean government in July, 2005, where he began to pull up the green shoots of spontaneous market economy.

If the news is confirmed, Park will be following in the undesirable footsteps of Ministry of Agriculture head Seo Gwan Hee and Premier Park Bong Ju.

Seo was executed for his role in the 1990s famine. According to defector testimony, Kim Jong Il shifted responsibility for the famine onto him and had him publicly executed in 1997.

Meanwhile, Park Bong Ju became the Premier of the North Korean Cabinet in 2003, the year after the adoption of the July 1st Economic Management Reform Measure, and was responsible for introducing revised market economic elements according to the July 1st Measure. However, results were not sufficient and he was sent to manage the Suncheon Vinylon Complex in South Pyongan Province. 

Lets hope that the jangmadang come back with a vengeance. 

Read the full articles here:
N.Korean Finance Chief Sacked Over Currency Debacle
Choson Ilbo
2/3/2010

Read the full story here:
Ban on Markets lifted
Daily NK
Jung Kwon Ho
2/3/2010

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