Capitalism reared it ugly head in North Korea

Monday, October 26, 2015

The growing number of cars on the streets of the North Korean capital prompted city officials to deploy traffic cops at the busiest parts of the city.

Traffic jams are still not an issue in the capital of the communist state but the fact that the city council had to deploy traffic police in itself a worrisome development.

Grocery stores selling western products are also getting more numerous in the city as the ever growing middle class demands better services write MTI.

The government actually does not stifle private trade anymore and some form of liberalization already underway in North Korea; but the term “liberalization” is a dangerous expression - it is more proper to talk about hidden capitalism, said experts in Seoul.

The purchasing power of North Korea's middle class is growing fast, which indicates that major changes are underway in the country that would have been unimaginable even a few years ago explained an expert of Liberty for North Korea non-governmental organization.
A growing number of citizens can afford to eat out in restaurants and buy a car. Car traffic on the streets of Pyongyang with the population of 2 million was nonexistent just a few years ago; today more and more cars can be seen on the streets of the capital mostly from China, although there are still no traffic lights in the city.

The capital has four taxi companies and calling a cab is not a challenge anymore, since an increasing number of citizens own mobile phones.

The "infiltration" of capitalism in the East Asian country is linked to several infrastructural developments. Recently, the government opened a new airport, financed the construction of several high-rise buildings, a researcher center, and even a dolphinarium.

Battered Hungarian made Ikarus trolley-buses manufactured by Ganz during the communist era are still running in Pyongyang.

Despite the emergence of a new economic elite, a significant portion of the population still can't afford the "luxurious" lifestyle.

A North Korean factory worker makes 20 thousand von a month, (about US 200); while civil servants' monthly salaries ranging from 10 and 60 thousand von (about 35 to 600 dollars) according to a book published by North Korea Confidential.

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