A Frank Discussion on the Challenges for Economic Reform in North Korea

October 4th, 2013

In the mid-1990s, North Korea experienced a famine that by some estimates wiped out 10 percent of the population. Though many at the time thought the regime would collapse, it has maintained control on power while at times allowing markets to spring up to supplement the state economy. At various points these openings have led to speculation that North Korea could engage in Chinese style economic reforms.

With Kim Jong-un now calling for his regime to pursue both guns and butter, it has again raised speculation that North Korea could engage in economic reforms. While it is still unclear if this is indeed the case, Korean Kontext sat down with Rüdiger Frank, Professor at the University of Vienna to discuss the challenges North Korea would face if it pursued economic reform , how regional leadership changes could impact Pyoungyang’s calculations, and the prospects for the new South Korean administration’s policy of Trustpolitik.
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