North Korea’s Kim to reform economy
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R) smiles with the Korean People’s Army senior officers, during a mass military parade in Pyongyang’s Kim Il-sung Square. AP photoNorth Korea is gearing up to experiment with agricultural and economic reforms after 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.
The source added that the cabinet had created a special bureau to take control of the decaying economy from the military which under Kim’s father was given pride of place in running the country. “In the past, the Cabinet was empty with no say in the economy. The military controlled the economy, but that will now change,” the source told Reuters. 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. It was unclear who will head the Cabinet’s “political bureau” and the party’s “economic reform group,” but change was inevitable, the source said. The changes could herald the most significant reforms by the North in decades. Previous attempts at a more market driven economy have floundered, most recently a drastic currency revaluation in late 2009 which triggered outrage and is widely believed to have resulted in the execution of its chief proponent.
“Ri Yong-ho, sacked army chief, was the most ardent supporter of Kim Jong-il’s ‘military first’ policy,” the source said, referring to Kim Jong-un’s late father who plunged the North deeper into isolation over its nuclear ambitions, poverty and political repression. The biggest problem was that he opposed the government taking over control of the economy from the military, the source said, requesting anonymity to avoid repercussions.