a Chinese foreign affairs journal
A Chinese foreign affairs journal is reporting that the North Korean economy has improved under the Kim Jong-un administration.
World Affairs, a journal published by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, writes in its most recent edition that North Korea “has introduced various market economy elements under the Kim Jong-un regime.”
“Economic conditions have actually improved even under international sanctions following its third nuclear test,” the article notes.
The text goes on to note that the market for agricultural trade is “vigorous” and that various domestic daily essentials are being produced.
“However, no signs of increased foreign capital, outside aid, or external trade are being detected amid North Korea’s sanctions by the international community,” it adds.
“The improvements in the economy should be understood as the result of new driving forces having emerged internally,” it concludes.
Citing statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the journal notes that the North’s rice shortfall “stood at 1,086,000 tons as recently as 2011, but had fallen to 340,000 tons as of last year.”
“North Korea may be self-sufficient in rice production within three to four years,” it predicts.
As reasons for the improvements, World Affairs notes two developments introduced by Kim last year, the so-called “May 30 measures” and the “local garden system.” The May 30 measures were a set of polices to promote management autonomy by assigning previously government-held powers to factories, businesses, farming villages, local governments, and development zones. Peking University professor Jin Jingyi, who was one of the first to witness the effects of the measures, said more specific follow-up measures would “be implemented within the year.”
The local garden system involves the cultivation of single rice plots of defined area by three to five farmers as “teams,” the smallest unit of cooperative parts, with individuals granted authority to sell the surplus once their target is met.
“Widespread implementation of the May 30 measures has resulted in market economy elements establishing themselves as an irreversible trend,” the journal writes.
“In the future, North Korea plans to introduce other market economy elements such as ‘family gardens’ and a system assigning authority to factory chiefs,” it notes.
The journal goes on to stress the need for large-scale foreign investment if the economic improvements are to continue.
“Attracting foreign investment was the chief reason for the visits to Russia and Southeast Asia late last year by Workers’ Party of Korea secretary Choe Ryong-hae and Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong,” it observes.
“However, North Korea will find it difficult to attract foreign investment unless it can provide a clear explanation on the nuclear issue,” it cautions.
By Seong Yeon-cheol, Beijing correspondent
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