[Update: Kushibo notes that North Korea has started lifting market restrictions. Rice prices and exchange rates have begun to stabilize. The confiscation is done, but does this mean the regime is backing down? That would mean that change is irreversible, and that the regime has just surrendered much of its control over the economy. And just to thank Kushibo for re-posting his comment after I stupidly deleted it, I’ll recommend you read his post on the sacking of Pak Nam-Ki. Give credit where it’s due: Kushibo saw the significance of the currency revaluation immediately.]
North Korea is acknowledging the obvious: the Great Confiscation has been an economic and political fiasco:
Pak Nam-Ki, the Communist Party’s director for planning and finance, has reportedly been absent from public activities since early January. South Korea’s Intelligence Service said it could not confirm his sacking. But an intelligence official told the Associated Press news agency it had been closely monitoring Mr Pak’s whereabouts and he had recently disappeared from view. [BBC]
There has also been infighting within the Inner Party:
“Mutual recriminations are rampant within the North’s power circles over the failure of the redenomination, [and] Director Pak who led the reform has been sacrificed,” a diplomatic source in Beijing told Chosun Ilbo. Yonhap news agency, quoting traders in the Chinese city of Dandong near the North Korean border, said Mr Pak had been sacked and was awaiting trial.
Related Korean article here. Wondering about the meaning of this, I asked Kim Kwang Jin, a friend and former senior regime official involved in North Korea’s insurance fraud scam, what this means. He gave me permission to print his response.
We are now seeing the sad reality that North Korea has as leadership for economy somebody like the current “scapegoat” Pak Nam-kee who does not know how credit card works and has no idea how bad the hyper-inflation is. It is even sadder that in North Korea they have no right and access to know this, not to say any right to act what they think is right. So, this time again, another “stupid” currency reform by the government, increased sufferings for the people and another scapegoat to calm down anger, on its painful way of final collapse, which is coming closer.
All the signs point to Mr. Kim being right about that. Even Kim Jong Il himself must again acknowledge that the people are unhappy:
The official Rodong Shinmun newspaper on Monday said Kim expressed “compassion” for the reliance of his people on broken rice, a cheaper, inferior product, in their staple diet. “What I should do now is feed the world’s greatest people with rice and let them eat their fill of bread and noodles. Let us all honor the oath we made before the leader [Kim Il-sung] and help our people feed themselves without having to know broken rice.”
The newspaper on Jan. 9 quoted Kim as recalling nation founder Kim Il-sung’s promise of rice and meat soup for all, but adding, “We have not yet fulfilled his wishes.” [Chosun Ilbo]
So who will be the one to postpone the inevitable and bail Kim Jong Il out now?