Doom and Gloom or Economic Boom? The Myth of the “North Korean Collapse” [Asia-Pacific Journal / Sweet & Sour Socialism Essential Archives]

If you read one article about North (sic) Korea this year — or perhaps this decade — this is the one to provide the antidote to capitalist media’s endless disinformation and vilification of that dynamic and resolute nation – Zuo Shou

The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 18, No. 3, May 5, 2014.
Doom and Gloom or Economic Boom? The Myth of the “North Korean Collapse” 破綻か好況か 「北朝鮮崩壊」という神話

Henri Feron

Abstract: The DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] is said to be an economist’s nightmare. There are almost no reliable statistics available, making any analysis speculative at best. The few useable figures that we have, though, fly in the face of the media’s curious insistence on a looming collapse. Food production and trade volumes indicate that the DPRK has largely recovered from the economic catastrophe of the 1990s. Indeed, Pyongyang’s reported rising budget figures appear more plausible than Seoul’s pessimistic politicized estimates. Obviously, sanctions, while damaging, have failed to nail the country down. There are signs that it is now beginning to open up and prepare to exploit its substantial mineral wealth. Could we soon be witnessing the rise of Asia’s next economic tiger?

There is hardly an economy in the world that is as little understood as the economy of the Democractic [sic] People’s Republic of Korea (aka “North Korea”). Comprehensive government statistics have not been made public since the 1960s. Even if production figures were available, the non-convertibility of the domestic currency and the distortion of commodity prices in the DPRK’s planned economy would still prevent us from computing something as basic as a GDP or GDP growth figure. In the end, this dearth of public or useable primary data means that outside analysis is generally based more on speculation or politicized conslusions than on actual information. Unfortunately, the greater the province of speculation, the greater also the possibility of distortion, and hence of misinformation, or even disinformation.

The dominant narrative in the Western press is that the DPRK is on the verge of collapse. What commentators lack in hard data to prove this, they often try to invent…

Excerpted; full article link with footnotes: http://www.japanfocus.org/-Henri-Feron/4113

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