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"North Korea Suspends Market Economy Reforms"

Posted August. 19, 2004 22:07,   


Dr. Kenneth Quinones, former State Department`s North Korean affairs officer, argued yesterday that North Korea had suspended market economy reforms since this spring and returned to a socialistic economic system.

Dr. Quinones argued this during an interview arranged by Yonhap News Agency after he attended the second international Chosun conference held in Pyongyang on August 4 and 5.

“Leaders of the North Korea Workers’ Party mentioned that the economic reform measures were suspended due to criticism that reform measures just brought about inflation without economic profits,” said Quinones. He added, “The goal of North Korea is to strengthen the socialistic state control, not to switch over to capitalism.”

He also quoted an official of the Workers’ Party as saying, “Reform has been suspended since this spring. We get everything, including apartments and food for free, without a salary.”

North Korea has taken reform measures, including readjustment prices, to a realistic level with a partial suspension of the national ration by the economic reform measures announced on July 1, 2002.

“I heard department stores and shops are empty in order to display goods in the Unification Market near the foreign residential district south of Pyongyang,” he said, adding, “What we can’t see may be more important than what we can see for understanding North Korea.”

Concerning the North Korea’s food problem, Dr. Quinones said, “Even though there are food problems in some part of Hamgyung Province where rice production is low due to transportation problems, there seem to be no more short of food, and residents seem to be generally healthy.”

Seung-Ryun Kim srkim@donga.com