Support Marketplace

The state of North Korea's economy

South Koreans react to the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il on December 19, 2011 in Seoul, South Korea.

Adriene Hill: The world is reacting to the death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il. For almost two decades, Kim kept the country -- and its economy -- isolated.

Marketplace's David Gura reports.


David Gura: Mike Chinoy is a researcher at USC. He says North Korea's economy is a mess.

Mike Chinoy: The state-run system has all of the inefficiencies that you see in socialist economies, exacerbated by all the quirks that the Kim dynasty imposed on it.

There are really two North Korean economies. One is known as the "royal court" economy -- that benefits the country's elites. Then there's the general economy. Most North Koreans are poor. There's widespread hunger and bad infrastructure.

Scott Park is with the U.S. Institute of Peace. He says North Korea doesn't have many trading partners.

Scott Park: We see the Chinese facilitating a lot of commercial and economic development activity along the border area.

A place where North Koreans mine for coal and iron ore. Today, almost two-thirds of North Korea's trade is with China.

I'm David Gura, for Marketplace.

About the author

David Gura is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...