From politics to economics, from leadership succession to the introduction of fast food restaurants, there is a lot going on inside North Korea.
Reading Aidan Foster-Carter’s “Budget Blanks and Blues,” I feel inspired to add my own slightly more optimistic thoughts on the analytical value of North Korean annual budget reports, in particular, if contrasted with statistics on its economy in general, a quagmire I have been dealing with for almost two decades now. For an economist, it [...]
Last time I wrote in these pages, in late April, “Party Time in Pyongyang,” I promised a Part II. This is a bad habit of mine. To be honest, what happens is this: Enthused by the topic at hand, I write far too much and swiftly reach (or exceed) my word limit. I resolve in all sincerity to return to the topic and the parts I had to leave out. [...]
North Korea has been touting for some time that 2012 is the year it will demonstrate its credentials as a “strong and prosperous nation.” On March 17, 2012, the day after announcing its intention to launch a missile and place a satellite in orbit, the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) published new foreign investment laws for the two special [...]
On one training trip to North Korea this year with Choson Exchange, I enjoyed less-than-tasty fried chicken washed down with copious amounts of beer with North Koreans at a joint venture fast food restaurant. On the rooftop, chickens ran around in what might be the only locally-sourced fast food restaurant in the world. Outside, traffic was [...]
The question consistently asked by journalists over the past weeks is whether the weeping and wailing that accompanied the death and funeral of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is the product of stage management or a genuine outpouring of grief. In other words, how real are the tears? To our secular and cynical Western sensibilities, it seems [...]
I remember my first close encounter with Kim Jong Il in July 2000 in Pyongyang, when he briskly walked into the room in Paekhwawon Guest House, where Russian President Putin and his entourage, of which I was honored to be a part, was waiting for him. He energetically shook hands with everyone without looking them in the eyes. My first real-life [...]