According to the Washington Post:
Because North Korea operates in secrecy and isolation, outside observers rely on informants and accounts from defectors. In this case, experts agree that the food shortage is dire. Several analysts who monitor and travel to North Korea agree that in recent weeks, Pyongyang has abandoned almost all rules about who can spend money and when. That would seem to indicate that Kim — who once equated free-market trading with “egotism” and a collapse of social order — now wants to rehabilitate markets that were damaged months earlier.
As of May 26, the government no longer forces markets to close at 6 or 7 p.m., has dropped the rule restricting customers to women older than 40 and has lifted a ban on certain goods being sold. One city official in the city of Pyungsung informed the Good Friends humanitarian group that the living standard had “drastically decreased since the currency exchange, and the government cannot provide distribution so they have to bring the market back up.”
Blanket Permission to Open Markets “Everyone can do business”
Authorization of public market is included at the core of the 5.26 Party directives. The North Korean authorities decided to allow everyone to have access to markets and overturned their original plan to close down the general market and exercise strong control over market. They announced that there will be no time restrictions, product control or age limitation. In reality, they allowed Democratic Women’s Union’s weekly prohibition from market operation during official work so people can work at market regardless of Democratic Women’s Union hours. Their only condition was to participate in labor mobilization. Pyungsung City, which suffered the most since last year’s decision to prohibit general market, is now allowed to open business and cancel other market regulations. A city official described the background on allowing of the market, “The living standard drastically decreased since the currency exchange and the government cannot provide distribution so they have to bring market back up.” He added, “There are increasing deaths from starvation so opening market is a reasonable resolution. Death due to starvation has gone out of control.” However, although the market doors are open wide, products are not being distributed and there is no cash flow. Market has shrunk that a businessman who used to make 3,000 won a day is barely making 200-300 won a day.
Good Friends is a valuable source of information but their reports should be taken with a grain of salt.