Current Publications

North Korea’s Economic Policy in 2018 and Beyond: Reforms Inevitable, Delays Possible

Rüdiger Frank

Kim Jong Un has based his claim to legitimacy as North Korea’s leader on economic performance. This makes him more vulnerable to economic crises than his predecessors. If he wants to stay in power and achieve Korean unification under his leadership, he will have to succeed in making North Korea the next East Asian tiger. However, reaching such an ambitious goal will be impossible without decisive steps towards privatization. While these have not been taken yet, economic stability has so far been ensured by very specific domestic and external factors that have bought Kim Jong Un time. In the meantime, Kim has worked to build North Korean versions of chaebols—large and broadly diversified business conglomerates with close ties to the state, the Party, and the military. These will ultimately help Kim to stay in control even after bold systemic reforms to which, in the end, there is no alternative.

Department of East Asian Studies
38 North
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
502027 Political economy
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