June 05, 2023

North Korea’s fishing industry: Markets, private business, and foreign trade

New sanctions target a burgeoning entrepreneurial class often independent from the state

When most people think of North Korea, they likely think of vast Stalinist combines pumping out steel and heavy machine tools, and collective farms that produce grain under the watchful control of the state. They do not think of merchants, markets, and workers in private firms making a steady income from doing an honest day’s work.

This will not come as news to many a North Korea watcher, but it bears repeating: much of the country’s economy is now marketized. So what does that mean in the case of the fishing industry - recently targeted for the first time by United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 2371?