November 29, 2023

How foreigners laid the groundwork for North Korea’s market revolution

Early DPRK entrepreneurs leveraged connections in Japan and China, undercutting regime’s narratives of self-sufficiency

Despite its officially socialist orientation, North Korea is a country defined by thriving markets, and the private economy now predominantly satisfies the population's consumption needs. 

Of course, this was not always the case. It’s relatively well-known that the DPRK’s market revolution triumphed in the mid-1990s, as North Koreans facing the collapse of the state distribution system and widespread famine turned to markets for food and other necessities.