North Korea could finally be considering capitalist methods to combat its long-running economic crisis, if reports by a major Japanese newspaper are to be believed.
Kim Jong Un allegedly urged officials of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea to debate economic reforms at an event in January, the Japan’s Mainichi Shimbun claims. The paper says it is in possession of records of his statements.
The records appear to show Kim stating he was aware that economists and officials were afraid of reforms and that he wanted to allow more room for debate. Kim is quoted as saying:
“When the economic division … (campaigners) and economists present economic management suggestions and say, ‘How about doing things this way?’ they are viewed from a biased perspective and criticised as ‘trying to introduce capitalist methods.’ Because of this, even if they have opinions on methodology relating to economic management, they don’t voice them.”
North Korea remains one of the few countries with a completely state-controlled economy.
When the paper questioned a member of the party, he said that they had been ordered by Kim to find new economic methods “whether they are Chinese methods or from Russia or Japan” so they could provide “better supplies and civilized lives” for the “wonderful” North Korean people. According to foreign estimates, about three million North Koreans are on the verge of starvation, news agency ITAR-TASS reports.
But despite his good intentions, it could all come to naught. Hardline politicians in Pyongyang have always opposed interactions with other states, worried it could undermine the government’s power and increase South Korea’s influence, according to Voice of Russia.
“The key is how much power the economic reformists have in North Korean society. If Kim lacks the support of these reformists he is unlikely to succeed, no matter how determined he is,” a government official told South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh.
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