rumours Grow That North Korea Is About To Enact Economic Reform

North Korea

Photo: AP Photo/Vincent Yu

On Wednesday, it was announced that North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly would meet on September 25th, marking their second meeting in 2012. Usually, the Assembly meets just once a year, meaning that something substantial may be in the works. As a result, various analysts and news sources are trying to predict what the meeting of deputies will produce.Some speculate the National defence Commission, the highest decision-making body under the late Kim Jong-il, may be reworked and some of the oldest members may be “let go”, reports the Chosun Ilbo, a major South Korean newspaper. 

Other outlets seem to think a new economic management policy that was announced in June and is set to begin in October may be signed into law. The most important change implemented would be an end to the rationing program, which seems to be a top priority for Kim Jong-un after assuring North Koreans in his first ever speech in April that they would “never have to tighten their belts again”, reports the New York Times

As part of the plan, incentives would be given to factories and communal farms in an effort to increase productivity. According to the New York Times, farmers would be allowed to keep 30 per cent of their crop yield. Currently, it is believed that farmers can only sell their yield when a surplus occurs, which is rare. The state would also grant more autonomy to factories, allowing them to choose what to produce and simply splitting the profits with the government. 

One more theory purports that the meeting is an attempt by Kim Jong-un to firmly establish and secure his power. Currently, the military has the main power over economic policies but Kim Jong-un would like to move the control under his Cabinet, reports the Voice of America.

At the moment, North Korea faces challenges with its centrally planned, closed economy only exacerbated by a recent drought, followed by intense flooding, that has created a food crisis. North Korea’s GDP is just 3 per cent that of South Korea’s. 

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