March 02, 2024
Analysis

How North Korean cinema betrays simmering resentment of country’s nouveau riche

2011 film uses story of a factory manager demoted to cobbler to critique rise of grassroots capitalism in country

North Koreans responded to the collapse of communism through grassroots capitalism, adopting what was then an alien concept in order to survive. Even decades later, market forces still play an important role in daily life in the DPRK.

But while these developments are well documented, far less well known is how the average North Korean feels about the retreat of communism and central distribution. More mysterious still is how DPRK society perceives growing income inequality and other characteristics of a market economy. 

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