Economic reforms coming to isolationist North Korea

North Korea has a long standing history of severe isolationism and militarism. After the death of long time leader Kim Jong-il however, opportunities for western influence are greater than ever now that young leader Kim Jong-un is in power. Rueters reports on the upcoming economic reforms that North Korea’s new leader and his powerful uncle want to implement:

Impoverished North Korea is gearing up to experiment with agricultural and economic reforms after young leader Kim Jong-un and his powerful uncle purged the country’s top general for opposing change, a source with ties to both Pyongyang and Beijing said.

Some North Korea experts said the comments confirmed their belief that the new leadership would try to make some changes to the stultifying controls over the economy.

“This should not come as a surprise. Kim Jong-un appears to have done considerable study on this (reform), taken a lot of lessons, and is probably trying to mould it in a way that suits their situation and in a way that blends with the existing policy. Ri’s departure has a lot to do with this process,” said Korea University professor Yoo Ho-yeol, speaking from Seoul.

He predicted that Jang would increasing press ahead with joint-venture projects with China, the only major ally to which the North can turn for economic help.

Kim Jong-un has set up an “economic reform group” in the ruling Workers’ Party to look at agricultural and economic reforms, the source said, adding that North Korea will learn from its giant neighbor and solitary benefactor, China.

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