Archive for the ‘1978 Socialist Labor Law’ Category

Park’s Appearance Unlikely to Mean Real Reform

Monday, December 13th, 2010

According to the Daily NK:

An oft-cited example of an advocate of reform within the North Korean leadership, former Prime Minister Park Bong Ju [aka Pak Pong-ju] appeared alongside Kim Jong Il during a recent onsite inspection at a Pyongyang sock factory, leading to suggestions that North Korea may again be contemplating the idea of embracing economic reform.

However, this is less likely than another explanation; that Park was brought back into the fold to oversee a number of revisions to the legal code during 2010.

Park, whose appearance at the onsite inspection was verified in five images broadcast by Chosun Central Television on the 11th, was a leading architect of the July 1st Economic Management Reform Measure of 2002, which formalized a number of relatively liberal economic policies.

He then became Prime Minister in September 2003, but was deposed during a period of economic retrenchment in April 2007, sent into virtual exile in South Pyongan Province as manager of Suncheon Vinalon Complex.

As a result of this career path, Park is seen by many as a reformist thinker in the North Korean elite.

Therefore, when he stepped back onto the main political stage this August, three years and four months later, mentioned in a report published by Chosun Central News Agency on August 21st about the 50th anniversary of a well-known Pyongyang restaurant, Okryugwan, it led to suggestions that North Korea might be set to head down the road to economic reform, led by Park as Party First Vice Director.

However, Park’s re-emergence does not mean that North Korea is about to turn towards market mechanisms on an official basis; conversely, it is more likely to be related to the revision this year of a number of laws which were actually designed to strengthen the control and supervisory functions of state institutions.

North Korea officially revised the People’s Economic Planning Law on April 6th alongside the Pyongyang Management Law, revised on March 30th, and both its Labor Protection and Chamber of Commerce and Industry Laws, revised on July 8th.

In revealing the legal revisions to The Daily NK in an interview in November, an inside North Korean source commented on the intention behind the changes, saying, “The People’s Economic Planning Law of 2001 alleviated national controls and supervision, even though it came before the July 1st measure of 2002. However, the revised bill strengthens national controls.”

Additionally, the source went on, “This series of bills including the revised People’s Economic Planning Law are the basis of the nation’s control, management and supervision. It should be understood as being part of the same flow as the series of measures undertaken during the succession process since October of 2007, when market controls began wholeheartedly; the 150-day Battle, 100-day Battle and currency redenomination.”

Accordingly, research suggests that North Korea probably chose to play the Park Bong Ju card now to revise state policy to try and sort out the problems left behind by the failure of the 2009 currency redenomination and to address the pressing need to improve the state of the domestic economy, whilst also hoping that the appointment of an official with a reformist image might attract investment from Northeast China and further afield.

Michael Madden has written a bio of Pak Pong-ju. Read it here.

Read the full Daily NK sotry below:
Park’s Appearance Unlikely to Mean Real Reform
Daily NK
Kim So-yeol


DPRK bolsters social security laws

Monday, July 21st, 2008

Institute for Far Eastern Studies
NK Brief No. 08-7-17-1

Recent transformations in the North Korean economy and society have led the government to draft policies to link the social welfare matrix to the social security law. The ‘Democratic Chosun’, a publication of the Central Peoples’ Standing Committee and the Cabinet, has on five occasions (April 3 and 4, May 14, 16, and 23, 2008) run articles titled, “Regarding the Social Security Law,” explaining recent changes to the law and its affects on the North’s social welfare.

This law contains six sections and 49 articles, the purpose of which is to strictly establish the structure and methodology of the nation’s social security system, and to protect the health of the people while providing them with secure and happy lives. Details of the law have not yet been made available.

North Korea established the National Social Security Law on August 30, 1951, although it was not actually enforced until after the April 14, 1978 Socialist Labor Law was passed. North Korea’s social security system is a means with which to control the country’s socialist economy, and also acts to restrict the lives of the people, as well. From when the September 8, 1948 Constitution was passed right up until today, North Korea has provided its people with social insurance and social security systems. Society’s sick, feeble, and handicapped receive treatment assistance or material support from the social insurance system.

By looking at past transitioning countries, one can see that transforming systems and quickly changing social and economic structures lead to linking of social security with social welfare in order to protect the society’s weak. In North Korea, the passing of the July 1, 2002 Economic Management Reform Measures and other sudden changes in the social and economic environments raised concerns regarding the issue of protecting the country’s most vulnerable. Combined with the North’s food shortages, the protection of the society’s elderly, children, pregnant, and other vulnerable elements has become a special issue of concern for North Korean authorities.   

NKeconWatch commentary:
This article surprised me.  Aside from this post, IFES updates are pretty well researched.  Does anyone really believe that the dejure intent and defacto incidence of legislation in North Korea are the same?  You would have to be completely ignorant of life in any communist country to actually believe the statement, “From when the September 8, 1948 Constitution was passed right up until today, North Korea has provided its people with social insurance and social security systems. Society’s sick, feeble, and handicapped receive treatment assistance or material support from the social insurance system.”

Not only is health care under-supplied in the DPRK, it is also not provided free-of-charge.  I am told by people who have had to obtain health care in the DPRK that you generally have to pay bribes to get access.  This was the reality of life in most communist countries. Here is a much better analysis of the supply of health care in the DPRK. 

As for the concern of North Korean authorities to maintain a social safety net during a difficult economic transition, this is no doubt true for a number of DPRK policy makers.  But the people who actually make decisions are still siding with security hawks who refuse to give aid workers and NGOs the freedom they need to effectively help people.