Monday, January 03, 2005


According to the Donga Ilbo, the times they are a changin' in North Korea:
North Korea, in an effort to enhance the productivity of collective farms, has decided to implement agricultural reform policies in March or April that would divide the current group unit into a group of two or three households.

If this policy is to approve de-facto family farming in North Korea, the first phase of the socialistic agriculture reform that China had implemented in 1978 will start again in the hermit kingdom, experts said.
Of course the key difference between China in 1978 and North Korea today is that China had a huge and potentially quite productive agricultural sector. Essentially all it took was for Zhao Ziyang to mandate that the PRC state get out of the way, and Sichuan was off to the races. North Korea, by virtue of geography and climate, lacks a similar producitve potential. Moreover, I suspect that a significantly higher proportion of the DPRK population lives and works in non-agricultural sectors than China in 1978. Thus, any expected increase in surplus is likely to be proportionally much smaller. Still, this is probably a positive development, not least for the farmers themselves, who now might have a chance of making a living.

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