North Korea’s market restrictions revisited

Reuters published a concise report of the DPRK’s recent restrictions on market activity which is compiled from work by Marcus Noland and Stephan Haggard.  Here is the Reuters report:

Reclusive North Korea has imposed a series of measures since 2008 to rein in market activity, foreign trade, and activity across the border.

A Peterson Institute for International Economics policy brief published this year outlines some of the rules put in place:

January – Women under 40 banned from trading in markets, followed by efforts to redeploy them to workplaces.

April – Wide-ranging Antisocialist Conscience Investigation of Sinuiju, the country’s main land port with China, including the books of trading organizations. Restrictions placed on carrying merchandise on bicycles and carts in Sinuiju.

July – Party, police, and market management office coordinate efforts to limit large sales in the Pyongsung market, an emerging wholesale center for the country in Pyongan province.

October – Nationwide ban on sale of shoes in markets and new restrictions limiting trade in foodstuffs to individually cultivated fruits and vegetables.

November – Major directive announcing the conversion of markets back to the more restrictive farmers’ market format. Markets to be open only on the 1st, 11th, and 21st of each month, and to be limited to retail sales of individually cultivated food; other foodstuffs and manufactures to be sold through the ‘public distribution system’ and state-run stores. Major cities, including Pyongyang, Hamheung, Soochun, Kaesung, and Chungjin, set up model farmers markets.

January – National Security Agency special investigative unit scrutinizes names, number of family members, and livelihoods of households in the National Border Area suspected of involvement in border crossing and trade. Public education campaigns and increased punishment for border crossing.

March – New controls over lodging and movement without passes in National Border Area [and] imposition of strict movement controls in connection with the Supreme Peoples Assembly elections; intensified controls following the elections.

May – Announcement of 150-day campaign accompanied by renewed implementation of market restrictions on women under 40 and restricted items, including products of joint ventures, industrial goods, and American and South Korean products. Punishment of emergent back-alley markets and ‘sell and run’ sales. Public education campaigns against market activities.

June – Closure of Pyongsung market in Pyongan province.

July – Increased control and surveillance over households in National Border Area with defectors.

November – North Korea announces a reform to replace all currency in circulation with new bills and coins.

The Peterson Institute report mentioned in this article can be found here (PDF).

I should also point out that many of these dictates were uniformly unenforceable and many have been rescinded (including the 10-day rule) since the currency reform was implemented.

Read the full story here:
Factbox: How North Korea has tightened controls


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