Some great advice on how to start your own business online! 
For more information please visit

Emerging market

In the L.A. Times, Barbara Demick has a stunning two-part piece (Part 1) (Part 2) about life in Chongjin, North Korea's third-largest city. Her report is based on interviews with over 30 residents who made their way to China to work or beg for food, or who defected to South Korea.

Demick begins by focusing on the mid-1990's famine in which some 2 million North Koreans starved to death:

Chongjin residents learned to recognize the stages of starvation.

First, the victims become listless and too weak to work. Their vision grows blurry. They become bone-thin, then startlingly, their torsos bloat.

Toward the end, they just lie still, sometimes hallucinating about food.

While some people seem to fade away, others die in agony, their intestines blocked when they can't digest substitute foods, such as corn powder and oak leaves. Particularly lethal to children's digestive systems are ersatz rice cakes — molded out of a paste made from the inner bark of pine trees.
As Demick reports, the utter failure of Kim Il-sung's Stalinist regime forced the development of a rudimentary, if still illegal, market economy for those who can afford to participate:
Shoppers can buy 88-pound sacks of rice emblazoned with U.S. flags, and biscuits and corn noodles produced by three factories in Chongjin run by the U.N. World Food Program — all intended to be humanitarian handouts.

Some people cut hair or repair bicycles, though furtively because these jobs are supposed to be controlled by the government's Convenience Bureau.

"They will bring a chair and mirror to the market to cut hair," Kim said. "The police can come at any moment, arrest them and confiscate their scissors."

Another new business is a computer salon. It looks like an Internet cafe, but because there's no access to the Web in North Korea, it is used mostly by teenagers to play video games.

More products are available, but inflation puts them out of reach for most people.
Click here for the Times' rare undercover video (WMV format) of an illegal North Korean market.


Anonymous said...

Can't help thinking of MacArthur. What if he had gotten his go ahead to fight the Chinese in Korea and waht if he hadn't been tough on the Russians in Tokyo? In the first case there might be one prosperous (or at least not starving) Korea. In the second case, there might have been and still be two Japan's, the Northern one looking something like this. Kim Jong Il is the world's biggest scumbag. 

Posted by tokyobk

Anonymous said...

One can more substantially speculate that had the U.S. and U.N. stayed out of the Korean conflict, that country would have eventually unified and been strong enough on its own to throw off communist tyranny.

Today's remaining Stalinist governments have more than tyranny in common: every single one was subject to direct U.S. attack. History shows that U.S. military intervention against communism failed miserably, whether it was in Vietnam, or North Korea or Cuba. It made the situation worse, not better.

By contrast, Poland and other countries where the U.S. had virtually no role were the first to shed communist tyranny.

We can surely speculate widely about why aggressive militarism failed to thwart communism, but any hypotheticals should proceed from the fact that it did.

It's easy to believe that you solve problems by killing the bad guys. It works every time in Hollywood, but the real world is a little more complicated.

Posted by McNamara

Anonymous said...

Mr. McNamara seems to confuse countries shedding Communism (a process that took about half a century in much of Europe and millions of deaths in Russia and China along with plenty more eslewhere) with those that had a chance to escape Communism, as South Korea did thanks to the US and UN.

Anyway, thanks for the links to the LA Times article, which is superb if grim. The sooner the DPRK falls, the better for everyone. 

Posted by Comrade_Tovarich



Powered by Blogger.