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North Korea - Rumblings from below

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   Petak, 08 Veljača 2013 10:20

She nurtured such dreams in her bedroom, watching illegal South Korean and American TV dramas smuggled in from China and shared among her friends on memory sticks which they plugged into black-market computers, some made by South Korea’s Samsung. She even flaunted her tastes in public. That was until the fashion police—no figure of speech in North Korea—arrested her for wearing a winter hat with “New York” on it. She was screamed at as “bourgeois trash” and released only when her mother, then a black-market trader, handed over two dozen packets of cigarettes as a bribe.
Such materialist tastes, however incongruous in a country where more than a quarter of young children are chronically malnourished, appear to reflect a changing reality in North Korea. While the Kim family dynasty, now in its third generation, seems almost immutable, the country that it rules over has altered dramatically. Instead of relying on state patronage for survival, people now hustle to make ends meet, and many of those who succeed use corruption, black markets, influence-peddling, inside information, criminality: in short, all the dark arts of an unregulated, out-of-control private economy.


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