Thursday, March 24, 2005

"NORTH KOREA CRAWLS TOWARD MARKET ECONOMY"

So says the Korea Times. If the specifics of the article are any indication, they're not kidding about the "crawling" part.

Some workers are approaching the staggering salary of $10 @ month:
Some factory workers for a shoe manufacturer are paid as much as 10,000 won ($9.50), he said. The average monthly pay in North Korea stays somewhere between 2,000 won and 3,000 won. The introduction of a salary system was one of the biggest reform measures established in June 2002.
There are also signs of actually demanding practical competence of new public officials:
`Now applicants have to pass economics and politics exams to become public officials,’’ Kim said. ``In the past, applicants were only required to pass an interview, in which they had to present other officials’ recommendations.’’
And finally, the university curriculum is changing:
``The Kim Il-sung University has been teaching students market economy principles since March 2003,’’ Kim said. ``It means the North’s viewpoint on the market is changing. I think Pyongyang now thinks the market is not a target to reject.’’
Will any of these measures bear significant fruit? Too soon to tell.

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