Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Markets in North Korea

The Economist looks at the role of markets in North Korea:

Illegal DVDs showing South Korean soap operas gave northerners a taste of the better life their former countrymen enjoyed, helping to destroy the myth of South Korea as a downtrodden Yankee colony.
If the US were truly interested in assisting the downfall of Kim Jong Il's odious regime, it would abandon the nonsensical policy of isolation and bombard the country with McDonald's, the NBA and MTV. Nothing would do more to undermine communist nonsense than exposure to an episode of Cribs. It's hugely ironic that North Koreans have to rely on DVDs smuggled in from nominally communist China to gain exposure to the advantages of capitalism.

Then there's this:

This is not to say that North Korea came to resemble anything like a modern economy. In just one sign of long-standing deprivation, many women still have no choice but to use dried leaves as sanitary towels: a Korean-American missionary says the greatest gift you can give to a North Korean woman is a washable one made of fabric. “They cry with joy.”
How sad. Even if trade with North Korea wouldn't do a thing to shake the country's ideological foundations, it would still be the correct approach for its humanitarian aspect. We do ourselves no favors by keeping the North Korean people poor and ignorant.

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