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Three Difficulties for the North Korean Economy and Inter-Korean Cooperation

  • 저자Jangho Choi
  • 발간일2020-11-03

Scholars studying the North Korean economy say that North Korea (NK) faces three difficulties by the end of 2020: sanctions against NK, Covid19, and flood damage. There are four ways to gauge the economic situation in North Korea: trade data, international reporting, prices, and North Korean media. The first two indicate that North Korea’s economy is poor and that serious food shortages can occur. The latter two tell us that there is an economic crisis in North Korea, but no one is dying of starvation yet. First, in the case of imports and exports, both fell sharply due to the sanctions and COVID19, and in particular, COVID19 played a decisive role in reducing North Koreas imports. Second, international organizations are warning that North Koreas food shortage could become serious. Third, prices show that the North Korean economy is stable. Fourth, the North Korean media are emphasizing that the economy is undergoing difficulties, but within an endurable level.

The South Korean governments pursuit of cooperation with North Korea aims at the stable management of the Korean Peninsula. Inter-Korean cooperation in 2020 did not show any progress. North Koreas economic hardship is expected to play a major role in inter-Korean cooperation in 2021. The North Korean economy, faced with sanctions, Covid19, and flood damage, is unlikely to overcome the economic difficulties on its own. Even if North Korea somehow survives the economic crisis, it will not be able to achieve economic growth. The South Korean authorities want to establish transborder peace on the Korean Peninsula, and they want that peace to lead to economic prosperity. To this end, the South Korean government is proposing inter-Korean dialogue, humanitarian food aid, and economic cooperation within the boundaries of the sanctions. The North Korean authorities should consider a change in attitude as well.

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