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5 - Marketisation and the Transformation of the North Korean State

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 September 2021

Kevin Gray
Affiliation:
University of Sussex
Jong-Woon Lee
Affiliation:
Hanshin University, South Korea
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Summary

In chapter five, we argue that the economic collapse and famine of the 1990s profoundly transformed North Korea’s political economy. North Korea’s population increasingly turned towards market activities for their survival. North Koreans have continued to rely on markets for food and everyday goods, though marketisation has since expanded to the services, transport and housing sectors. While much of the existing literature has presented state and market as situated in a zero-sum relationship, we challenge the ontological separation between state and market to argue that the rise of the market in North Korea has been closely intertwined with the state. State officials have increasingly become involved in market activities, and the growing entrepreneurial class have entered into partnerships with officials as a means of negotiating the lack of clear property rights. The state has also taken a leading role in furthering the process of marketisation through the creation of new economic sectors, such as the mobile communications sector, for example.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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