Journalist Julian Manyon managed get into North Korea by pretending to be a businessman. He didn't seem to manage to talk to many people there. But he did find signs of small amounts of market forces being allowed to operate.
Then in the gloaming it was on to the food market, an open-air huddle the size of a couple of tennis courts, where Mr Pak declared firmly, ‘No pictures. Watch out for pickpockets!’ On rows of rough-hewn tables sat local produce being hawked by sturdy female traders who are now permitted to engage in a primitive form of free enterprise. With eager determination they tried to interest their poorly dressed, shivering customers in shrivelled vegetables, piles of unwashed fish and boxes of dead crabs. Mr Pak claimed that the ‘difficult period’ — he meant the famine which killed thousands in the region two years ago — was now over and supplies were getting better. It was not clear how many people in La Jin could afford to buy market produce or what happens to those forced to rely on the seemingly empty government shops.
One interesting note is that prostitutes are offered to foreign visitors. But the same is true in Cuba and the Cuban regime seems quite stable.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2003 February 01 11:40 AM Korea|