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Back in the DPRK, again. This time they mean business! September 4, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in International Politics, US Politics.

Here from NPR’s Planet Money economics podcast one about:

U.S. citizens who want to buy stuff from North Korea have to write a letter to the U.S. government asking for special permission. As regular listeners know, we’re sort of obsessed with North Korea. So we decided to try to get those letters.


…we try to figure out who sent the letters, why they wanted to do business with North Korea, and what that tells us about the North Korean economy.

You can also see the letters in the original at the web address above.

The podcast mentions, North Korea Economy Watch, an economy blog on that very topic, and has a fascinating interview with the guy behind it. He argues that far from the DPRK being unaware of the ‘kitsch’ or ‘novelty’ aspect of products being produced there, is very very aware and modifies its message according to the recipients.


1. Logan - September 4, 2013

Strange to read…

After the recent news about how Kim Jong-Un ordered the execution of his former girlfriend, it appears that he is definitely a match in cruelty for his antecedents.

I imagine any North Korean beer would taste rather bitter in my mouth,for one.

Not that the financial support you would be giving to the regime by such a purchase makes any difference, it will continue in power as along as it suits China, but still…


WorldbyStorm - September 4, 2013

I’m about as far from a fan of the DPRK as one can get, but it is probably worth making the point the story about the former girlfriend is unsubstantiated. However, I take your point re the beer drinking. I kind of get what the guy in the podcast who went there was trying to do, but tricky to disentangle the regime from its people, in that respect at least.


Michael Carley - September 4, 2013

I read recently something that should have been obvious: it suits Japan for Korea to remain divided.


WorldbyStorm - September 4, 2013

And China too one suspects. The more I read about it the more it seems to me to be only able to exist in any form at the behest of Beijing. Granted it’s a bit more complicated than that, and it has a significant degree of autonomy, but one suspects that if the PRC said, okay enough, that would be it.


2. Bob Smiles - September 4, 2013

Denis Rodman is out there at the moment


3. Logan - September 4, 2013

Michael Carley, what Japan does or doesnt want is pretty immaterial with regard to Korea. It is clear that the North Korean regime is absolutely dependent on China for its continuing existance in its current form. Which is not to deny that the Chinese leadership is probably hugely exasperated with the Kim dynasty.
But with having zero friends in the area they feel stuck with them.
If China abandoned North Korea it would be subsumed by the South within a short few years and there is nothing Japan could do about it.
Japan has historically wished to have a weak Korea (when they havent been colonisjng it outright, of course). However, in the current geopolitical circumstancea I would say they are so concerned about the rise of China that they would be very happy to have a strong united Korea if they felt that it would counter Chinese power.


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