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North Korea legalizing marketplaces to 'manage' people

Staff Writer | March 29, 2017
The North Korean regime is navigating sea changes in the country by legitimizing the country's expanding marketplaces, according to a South Korean government-run think tank.
North Korea marketplaces
Asia   Donga Ilbo reported:
The Korea Development Institute said in a report issued Wednesday that Pyongyang has legalized 404 markets in the country, South Korean newspaper Donga Ilbo reported.

The "general markets" are found in government-designated sites and vendors must pay bribes, or a street tax, to do business, according to the report.

The government began legalizing markets as early as 2003, researchers said.

South Pyongan Province, on the western coast of North Korea, is the area with the greatest number of legitimized markets.

A total of 116 legal markets operate in the province, where goods from China and South Korea are likely on sale.

The population of North Koreans working in the markets is about 1.6 million, or more than 4 percent of the population.

The number of stores and vendors in the marketplaces combined is about 1.09 million, according to the South Korean research.

Hong Min-hong, a research fellow at Seoul's Korea Institute for National Unification, said the North appears to be "actively engaging in a system that regularly manages the people through markets that are replacing existing planned economies and rationing programs."