February 22, 2024

North Korea’s economy is improving – but this may not save Kim Jong Un

History shows us that better standards of living could spell trouble for the DPRK leadership

When it comes to discussing North Korea, the image of a “land of starvation” may still dominate perceptions of the country, but more and more people are coming to understand, perhaps somewhat reluctantly, that this characterization is incorrect.

Recently, the Bank of Korea, South Korea’s central bank, changed its long-held position on the North Korean economic growth. For years, the Bank of Korea has published improbably low estimates of North Korea’s annual GDP growth, usually claiming it to be between 1% and 1.3% - well below the estimates of virtually all other observers.