The Markets: Private Economy and Capitalism in North Korea?

Analysis, Economics
, by and The growth of markets and gradual changes in the economy are some the most significant developments to occur in North Korea over the last 20 years. An understanding of these fundamental changes is critical for the formulation of North Korea policy. In an effort to further investigate these evolving economic changes in North Korea, Beyond Parallel launched a pioneering and original data collection project in 2017 and 2018 on markets.

Pyongyang Gas Stations and Fluctuating Fuel Prices

Economics, Foreign Affairs, Infrastructure & Energy
, by and In July and September 2017, unconfirmed reports circulated about dramatically fluctuating gasoline and diesel prices in North Korea. There were also reports that China was planning to suspend or limit fuel exports to North Korea. Analysis of satellite imagery from around this period indicates that a fuel suspension of any significant length does not appear to have affected Pyongyang.

Sino-North Korean Friendship Bridge Closure

Analysis, Economics, Foreign Affairs
, by and On November 24, 2017, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told reporters that the Sino-North Korean Friendship Bridge will be closed temporarily in the “near future” for repairs. A detailed analysis of DigitalGlobe satellite imagery from November 24th shows no activity on the bridge—repair or otherwise.

Unification Transparency Index: Allied Views of China and Japan

Analysis, Economics, Environment, Foreign Affairs, Governance, Health, Human Rights, Humanitarian Aid, Infrastructure & Energy, Legal, Military, Nuclear Weapons, Refugees & Migration
, by South Korea and the United States generally share similar estimations of China’s and Japan’s blind spots in a unification scenario. Both believe that Beijing has the most prominent blind spot on domestic stabilization and refugees, and that Japan shares similar concerns, suggesting that all four powers could prioritize law and order in a unification scenario.

Comparing South Korea and U.S. Perceptions of Korean Unification

Analysis, Economics, Environment, Foreign Affairs, Governance, Health, Human Rights, Humanitarian Aid, Infrastructure & Energy, Legal, Military, Nuclear Weapons, Refugees & Migration
, by Beyond Parallel’s first-ever survey of expert assessments on unification-related issues indicate South Korea and the United States share the common view that domestic stabilization and unification costs constitute the most critical unification blind spots with a high degree of concern but low levels of knowledge for both countries.

Unification Transparency Index: South Korea

Analysis, Economics, Environment, Foreign Affairs, Governance, Health, Human Rights, Humanitarian Aid, Infrastructure & Energy, Legal, Military, Nuclear Weapons, Refugees & Migration
, by Domestic stabilization is the most critical issue with unification for South Korean officials and experts, registering the highest composite score (i.e., high level of concern and low level of knowledge). This means civil-military relations, law and order, and stability in the North represent the issues for which Koreans see great consequences for national interests, but for which they have little prior knowledge or understanding. Hence, it is the greatest potential “blind spot” of unification. Costs related to unification rank a close second for South Koreans, followed by refugees, nuclear weapons, and human rights.

Paradise Evaporated: Escaping the No Income Trap in North Korea

Analysis, Economics
, by A View Inside North Korea: 35 of 36 North Koreans currently living inside North Korea said at least 75% of their household income came from the markets and not from their official government sanctioned jobs. As featured on The Washington Post... As featured in The Washington Post "Markets helping North Koreans become more independent of the…

Geopolitics and President Moon’s Economic Policy Development

Economics, Governance
, by South Korea’s New President, in Trying to Develop Economic Policy, is Caught up in Geopolitics. South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, in his first two months in office is trying to ease the country’s relations with North Korea just as liberal predecessors, Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun, sought to do. Moon opened the door to negotiations and even a summit with the North’s Kim Jong Un, but he has also spoken critically of the North’s missile tests and, with a missile firing and flyovers conducted with the U.S., flexed the South’s military muscles. Moon’s economic strategy is unfolding in a similar manner, with ideas that are like those of the progressive leaders past and some tactics that show he recognizes when difficult choices are needed.