September 29, 2020

Change is in the air in North Korea

Expect better living conditions, but little change in personal liberties, inter-Korean relations

Recent news leaves little room for doubt: the Kim Jong Un government is far more serious about reforms than I, or indeed most observers expected. According to recent reports, from next year, the North Korean government will implement a set of policies known as the “May 30th Measures.”

In a nutshell, these policies presage the dramatic acceleration of reforms that began with the “June 28th Measures” of 2012. If current reports are to be believed, from next year North Korean farmers will be allowed to keep not 30 percent but 60 percent of their harvest for themselves. In addition, they will be allocated large kitchen plots, measuring 1,000 pyeong (or 3,300 m2), which is unprecedented by North Korean standards. It is assumed that the “small production team,” normally consisting of two households, will become the main production unit in agriculture.