THE ELITES ARE DISGRUNTLED at Kim Jong Un’s impulsive temper and insensitivity, according to this Chosun Ilbo report. Separately, this report talks about endemic corruption and economic inequality in North Korea.
Meanwhile, a third Chosun Ilbo survey of 100 North Koreans in China suggests that the marketization of the peoples’ economy has passed the point of no return.
Between 70 and 90 percent of North Koreans make ends meet by buying and selling goods in the grey or black market now that the state rationing system has effectively been wiped out, according to a survey.
The survey was conducted by the Chosun Ilbo and Center for Cultural Unification Studies among 100 North Koreans living in the Chinese border areas of Dandong and Yanji from January until May. [….]
“The state rationing system has collapsed except in Pyongyang and a few other areas, and it’s difficult to survive on your wages alone, so most people make ends meet by selling goods,” one North Korean said.
Another said, “A worker makes around W3,000 a month, but that’s not enough to buy even a kilogram of rice, so you’d starve to death unless you sell goods at markets.” He added, “You get scolded for not showing up for work, so people go to the office in the morning to check in and then head to the market.” [Chosun Ilbo]
The survey also provides a basis for an interesting analysis by Christopher Green, at Sino-NK. Those surveyed support reunification overwhelmingly. Surprisingly for people who live by trading, they support a transition to capitalism in a unified Korea by a less overwhelming margin.
One always wonders about sampling and selection bias in stories like these. Are views like these really predominant in Pyongyang, in particular? I can’t say, but it is significant that in a society that demands unanimous obedience, the Chosun Ilbo was able to find dissenters. And yes, I believe that it really did find them.