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antiestablishmentarian
25-12-2011, 08:14 PM
A fascinating series on the DailyNK website of a number of interviews with North Koreans who have moved to China. They come from all walks of life, and include even cadres loyal to the regime. Issues touched on include the black markets, drug consumption, the economic collapse caused by the currency redemonination in 2009, to insights about the flow of information into North Korea from the outside world.

http://www.dailynk.com/english/sub_list.php?cataId=nk03900


Interview 11: Kim Seon Hee
Sex:
Age: Mid 50s
Area: Nampo, North Hwanghae Province
Job: Factory Supply Head

-- What work did you do in North Korea?

I worked at a factory in Nampo, in Hwanghae Province. Everything going in passed through my hands.

- Why did you come to China?

I lost an awful lot in the currency redenomination, that’s why. I’d been coming and going to China for a long time. People are envious of people like me who can come and go easily, but I lost everything in the currency redenomination, so I came out to start again with some help from my family.

- Were things good for you in Kim Il Sung’s time?

We got good distribution during the Kim Il Sung era. Education was free, too, from elementary school to university; it was all free. Food distribution was reliable, and there was enough food. Everything got hard the very minute the Premier died and the Kim Jong Il era came. In the Kim Jong Il era they produced lots of nuclear weapons and strengthened our national defense capability off the backs of the people. They couldn’t provide distribution because they were putting everything into producing bombs to prepare for war. The people had previously depended on the state to live; with the coming of the Kim Jong Il era things got really hard.

- How did you manage to survive the March of Tribulation?

When the March of Tribulation time came, people had no way to survive. I had devoted myself to the state, so I had even become a Party member. However, the March of Tribulation came and overnight there was suddenly nowhere to go. So people like me left the factories. There was no work and they didn’t give any distribution, so we went and traded in the jangmadang every day instead. There were loads of people on the streets.

But then all our money flew off into the night during the currency redenomination. I figured that since I had no capital there was no way to live and I would have to go to China. So I borrowed 6000 in Chosun money and came out. When you say you are going to China, everyone lends you money. So I got a passport and came.

riposte
26-12-2011, 07:45 PM
A fascinating series on the DailyNK website of a number of interviews with North Koreans who have moved to China. They come from all walks of life, and include even cadres loyal to the regime. Issues touched on include the black markets, drug consumption, the economic collapse caused by the currency redemonination in 2009, to insights about the flow of information into North Korea from the outside world.

http://www.dailynk.com/english/sub_list.php?cataId=nk03900

"Interview 11: Kim Seon Hee
Sex:
Age: Mid 50s
Area: Nampo, North Hwanghae Province
Job: Factory Supply Head

-- What work did you do in North Korea?

I worked at a factory in Nampo, in Hwanghae Province. Everything going in passed through my hands.

- Why did you come to China?

I lost an awful lot in the currency redenomination, that’s why. I’d been coming and going to China for a long time. People are envious of people like me who can come and go easily, but I lost everything in the currency redenomination, so I came out to start again with some help from my family.

- Were things good for you in Kim Il Sung’s time?

We got good distribution during the Kim Il Sung era. Education was free, too, from elementary school to university; it was all free. Food distribution was reliable, and there was enough food. Everything got hard the very minute the Premier died and the Kim Jong Il era came. In the Kim Jong Il era they produced lots of nuclear weapons and strengthened our national defense capability off the backs of the people. They couldn’t provide distribution because they were putting everything into producing bombs to prepare for war. The people had previously depended on the state to live; with the coming of the Kim Jong Il era things got really hard.

- How did you manage to survive the March of Tribulation?

When the March of Tribulation time came, people had no way to survive. I had devoted myself to the state, so I had even become a Party member. However, the March of Tribulation came and overnight there was suddenly nowhere to go. So people like me left the factories. There was no work and they didn’t give any distribution, so we went and traded in the jangmadang every day instead. There were loads of people on the streets.

But then all our money flew off into the night during the currency redenomination. I figured that since I had no capital there was no way to live and I would have to go to China. So I borrowed 6000 in Chosun money and came out. When you say you are going to China, everyone lends you money. So I got a passport and came. "


What has me puzzled is how this currency speculator living in North Korea knew so much about his government's policy on Nuclear weapons ...indeed how did he know anything ... about anything?

TotalMayhem
26-12-2011, 07:57 PM
What has me puzzled is how this currency speculator living in North Korea knew so much about his government's policy on Nuclear weapons ...indeed how did he know anything ... about anything?

Easy now. When the Euro goes kaputt, you may find yourself in the company of 4 million fellow "currency speculators", whining about your own losses.

riposte
26-12-2011, 08:02 PM
Easy now. When the Euro goes kaputt, you may find yourself in the company of 4 million fellow "currency speculators", whining about your own losses.

TM ... I have invested all my wealth in tins of bully beef and Guinness... which I reckon will hold their value and ...depending on how hungry and thirsty my neighbours get... might appreciate.

TotalMayhem
26-12-2011, 08:21 PM
Good on ya.

antiestablishmentarian
26-12-2011, 08:49 PM
What has me puzzled is how this currency speculator living in North Korea knew so much about his government's policy on Nuclear weapons ...indeed how did he know anything ... about anything?
You should read the rest of the interviews- they make it pretty clear that the porousness of the Chinese border and the large scale traffic back and forth across the frontier means alot more information about the outside world has been smuggled in, and in any case the North Korean government has trumpeted its nuclear weapons programme from the roofs inside the country as an example of how powerful the government is.

antiestablishmentarian
26-12-2011, 09:26 PM
I have moved all the posts discussing North Korea's nuclear weapons and the subsequent discussion on the Korean War and the present military situation to a new thread- I'll also do the same for the discussion of Kim Il-Sung, as that belongs in the Foundation thread by rights. This discussion was intended to be about contemporary life in North Korea and a discussion of the different issues raised by the interviews.

http://www.politicalworld.org/showthread.php?t=10644

Dr. FIVE
27-12-2011, 08:14 PM
The mother was telling me she broke the news to our Chinese in-law and he launched into a great spiel about the prosperousness of the North Korean people.

He's living here about seven years but this kind of thing still happens a lot :(
He still doesn't really understand how people could criticise Bertie or Cowen. Just something he was never taught

TotalMayhem
27-12-2011, 09:18 PM
The mother was telling me she broke the news to our Chinese in-law and he launched into a great spiel about the prosperousness of the North Korean people.

He's living here about seven years but this kind of thing still happens a lot :(
He still doesn't really understand how people could criticise Bertie or Cowen. Just something he was never taught

Such a progressed stadium of brainwashing is not uncommon here either, hear Martin Mansergh revering Bertie last night on HashVinB? :D

C. Flower
27-12-2011, 09:20 PM
Hear RTE banging on about "The Queen" all over Christmas.

C. Flower
27-12-2011, 09:30 PM
"The Queen's Speech" starting now on RTE 1 :(

Sam Lord
27-12-2011, 09:48 PM
Why have South Koreans been prohibited by their government from going to pay their respects? Surely that's their business and not for the government to dictate.

TotalMayhem
27-12-2011, 09:53 PM
Why have South Koreans been prohibited by their government from going to pay their respects? Surely that's their business and not for the government to dictate.

South Koreans are banned from going to the North in any event under the government's policy, South Korea remains technically at war with the North.

Sam Lord
27-12-2011, 10:02 PM
South Koreans are banned from going to the North in any event under the government's policy, South Korea remains technically at war with the North.

They aren't all banned. I saw some very influential South Korean families on the news offering their condolences. Including the big noises in Hyundai.

Hyundai apparently has substantial investments in North Korea including being in charge of developing the Kaesong Industrial Region where some 700,00 North Koreans will provide cheap labout for south Koreans companies. This is all very strange for a country that is asserted to be [a] communist and [b] at war with South Korea.



In the park’s initial phase, 15 South Korean companies constructed manufacturing facilities. Three of the companies had started operations by March 2005. First phase plans envisaged participation by 250 South Korean companies from 2006, employing 100,000 people by 2007. The park was expected to be complete in 2012, covering 25 square miles (65 km2) employing 700,000 people. As of June 2010, 110 factories were employing approximately 42,000 DPRK workers and 800 ROK staff.[2] Companies operating or under construction in the complex are seeking to hire an additional 26,000 North Korean workers. Construction of dormitories and other infrastructure for the additional workers is on hold as the Lee Myung-bak administration has prioritized movement on North Korean nuclear issues. Electrical power and telephone service is supplied from South Korea; 15MW of power is being supplied in 2005, with plans for a 100MW supply by 2007.

The Kaesŏng industrial park is run by a South Korean committee that has a fifty-year lease which began in 2004. Hyundai Asan, a division of South Korean conglomerate Hyundai has been hired by Pyongyang to develop the land.[3] The firms are taking advantage of cheap labour available in the North to compete with China to create low-end goods such as shoes, clothes, and watches. Workers earn an average of $57 per month—half of Chinese labour costs and less than 5 percent the salaries of their South Korean counterparts.[3]



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaesong_Industrial_Park

TotalMayhem
27-12-2011, 10:04 PM
Offering condolences does not equate traveling. Of course there are exceptions, and allowing two private delegations to go North can be seen as progress.

Sam Lord
27-12-2011, 10:08 PM
Offering condolences does not equate traveling. Of course there are exceptions, and allowing two private delegations to go North can be seen as progress.

So South Korean capitalists with investments in the North are allowed to travel to the North but your ordinary man in the street is not.:confused: That is some democracy they are running in South Korea.

TotalMayhem
27-12-2011, 10:08 PM
And even if they were allowed, the Commies up North would deny them.

To them "everybody is welcome", except South Koreans and Journalists.

TotalMayhem
27-12-2011, 10:09 PM
So South Korean capitalists with investments in the North are allowed to travel to the North but your ordinary man in the street is not.:confused: That is some democracy they are running in South Korea.

It;s cruel world, Sam, get over it. ;)

Sam Lord
27-12-2011, 10:10 PM
By the way ... I suspect that ordinary people were prohibited from travelling north to offer condolences because the government in the South would have been very embarrased by the numbers doing so. I have no doubt the capitalists who run North Korea would have been happy to let them in.

TotalMayhem
27-12-2011, 10:14 PM
the government in the South would have been very embarrased by the numbers doing so.

I don't recall any queues of East Germans at the travel offices when Honecker died in Chile. :D

Sam Lord
27-12-2011, 10:21 PM
I don't recall any queues of East Germans at the travel offices when Honecker died in Chile. :D

There is no connection between the two .. apples and oranges ...

In this case the people travelling to pay their respects would have been doing so as an expression of the feeling (very strong in Korea in my understanding) that it is one country which has been wrongly partitioned. Going by Koreans I have met I have no doubt that substantial numbers would have been prepared to travel.

TotalMayhem
27-12-2011, 10:31 PM
Give it up, Sam. If countries are at war (and the two Koreas are technically at war) then travel restrictions are quite normal. The South Koreans can travel pretty much anywhere else in the world, a freedom their brethren in the North are generally denied by the communist terror regime.

Sam Lord
27-12-2011, 10:48 PM
Give it up, Sam. If countries are at war (and the two Koreas are technically at war) then travel restrictions are quite normal. The South Koreans can travel pretty much anywhere else in the world, a freedom their brethren in the North are generally denied by the communist terror regime.

I've never heard of two countries being at war and the ruling circles in one country have hundreds of factories employing thousands of people operating in the other. :) And where the capitalists are free to cross from one country to the other as suits them ... but the ordinary person is prohibited because the two countries are "at war." Bizarre.

TotalMayhem
27-12-2011, 10:51 PM
I've never heard of two countries being at war and the ruling circles in one country have hundreds of factories employing thousands of people operating in the other. :) And where the capitalists are free to cross from one country to the other as suits them ... but the ordinary person is prohibited because the two countries are "at war." Bizarre.

Right, I get it... now, what is your take on the Commies denying their people any travels abroad.

Sam Lord
27-12-2011, 10:55 PM
Right, I get it... now, what is your take on the Commies denying their people any travels abroad.

What commies? Didn't you read about the Industrial Estates providing wage labour for the South Korean bourgeoisie. Just because it suits you to call them commies doesn't erase reality.

C. Flower
27-12-2011, 11:02 PM
What commies? Didn't you read about the Industrial Estates providing wage labour for the South Korean bourgeoisie. Just because it suits you to call them commies doesn't erase reality.

Do you think the NEP, or Lenin's invitation, prior to the NEP, to entrepreneurs who would set up factories in Russia, meant he wasn't a communist ?

It's not a moral question, it's an economic one, and overall, the main elements of the economy of North Korea (in spite of the unofficial markets and investment zone) appear to be nationalised.

TotalMayhem
27-12-2011, 11:09 PM
What commies? Just because it suits you to call them commies doesn't erase reality.

Suits me???


The origins of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea can be traced to the Down-With-Imperialism Union, "the first genuine revolutionary communist organization in Korea."

I'll give ya "bourgeois":


In the 1920s, foreign companies, including those from Western countries, were allowed to start joint ventures with the USSR as part of Lenin's New Economic Policy.

Baron von Biffo
28-12-2011, 01:16 AM
I've never heard of two countries being at war and the ruling circles in one country have hundreds of factories employing thousands of people operating in the other. :) And where the capitalists are free to cross from one country to the other as suits them ... but the ordinary person is prohibited because the two countries are "at war." Bizarre.

US civil war. 'honest' Abraham Lincoln had no worries about trading with the enemy.

Sam Lord
28-12-2011, 03:14 AM
It's not a moral question, it's an economic one, and overall, the main elements of the economy of North Korea (in spite of the unofficial markets and investment zone) appear to be nationalised.

So what. The banks in Ireland might as well be nationalised. What does that indicate? It's not a moral question and neither is it a question of how much of the economy is nationalised. The fundamental issue is in whose interests is the society organised. In North Korea it is in the interests of a small elite.

C. Flower
28-12-2011, 11:09 AM
So what. The banks in Ireland might as well be nationalised. What does that indicate? It's not a moral question and neither is it a question of how much of the economy is nationalised. The fundamental issue is in whose interests is the society organised. In North Korea it is in the interests of a small elite.

That could be said of any country run by a highly centralised and bureaucratic CP.
North Korea has never had an economy without small scale market activity, neither did the USSR(particularly agricultural). SIPTU has an elite that has dabbled into all kinds of inappropriate activities. That doesn't make it capitalist, nor would it make it all right for it to be closed down by FG.

The "nationalisation" of the banks in Ireland is completely different. It is entirely under the control of and being administered in the interests of finance capital. In any event, they are not fully nationalised, but have been set up to be run exactly in the same way as any private corporation. "Public interest" directors are in fact legally obliged to act in the interests of the profitability of the bank at all times and not in the public interest. The plan is to fill them up with public cash and then give them away to private owners asap.

Lenin describes that process in "Imperialism, the Highest Form of Capitalism." It's not new, it happens whenever the private sector hits a rock.

The situation in North Korea is plainly that it made some advances towards a state owned planned economy and that the private sector is subordinate.

The same situation existed in the USSR.

antiestablishmentarian
28-12-2011, 11:28 AM
I'd characterise it as a mixed economy rather than a state owned one. While the government nominally controls most factories, alot of them produce nothing and the only productive sector is the arms industry. The majority of citizens survive off their labour or commerce in the market place or on their private plots, much of the state machinery was cannibalised and sold as scrap from the 90s onwards, and traders prefer to use Yuan and Dollars as the main currency in the market place following the currency redenomination, the army makes up its rations and equipment shortfall by trading or bribery (for instance, border guards sell arms across the Russian border for cash to buy food) so I suppose one could say that the state is nominally superior and controls some important aspects of the eocnomy, but that most of the citizens outside Pyongyang, which still gets a level of distribution unlike the provinces, survive in the market sector.

C. Flower
28-12-2011, 11:35 AM
I'd characterise it as a mixed economy rather than a state owned one. While the government nominally controls most factories, alot of them produce nothing and the only productive sector is the arms industry. The majority of citizens survive off their labour or commerce in the market place or on their private plots, much of the state machinery was cannibalised and sold as scrap from the 90s onwards, and traders prefer to use Yuan and Dollars as the main currency in the market place following the currency redenomination, the army makes up its rations and equipment shortfall by trading or bribery (for instance, border guards sell arms across the Russian border for cash to buy food) so I suppose one could say that the state is nominally superior and controls some important aspects of the eocnomy, but that most of the citizens outside Pyongyang, which still gets a level of distribution unlike the provinces, survive in the market sector.

Thanks. That's interesting and pretty much as I described it. The same could be said of the USSR, although clearly the USSR had much bigger resources and was able to develop its own, albeit limited, heavy industry. Do they produce their own cars or any other manufactured products? Who owns the mineral resources there ?

How do you think it compares to China under Mao ?

antiestablishmentarian
28-12-2011, 11:53 AM
Thanks. That's interesting. Do they produce their own cars or any other manufactured products? Who owns the mineral resources there ?

How do you think it compares to China under Mao ?

The state owns the resources but many of the mines have either stopped production since the 1990s or output has fallen by up to 70% in places. I have read that the Chinese are taking over alot of the mineral resources though, and that the state seems to be getting a smaller amount of the return from joint-venture profits (see here (here) and here (here)). The only manufactured goods they produce in bulk are arms, vinalon textiles (which aren't exported, they use them for making uniforms), and cement.

The industrial base was always limited enough, but what really gave it a death blow was the failure to invest scarce resources in upgrading equipment in the latter half of the 1980s- the state instead chose to build a large number of very costly white elephants such as the sports facilities they built in the capital to show the world that Pyongyang could compete with Seoul, and the world's largest hotel, the 105-storey Ryugyong, which consumed 2% of the countries GDP between 1987 and 1992 (when it was abandoned half built due to lack of funds, and remained derelict until an Egyptian company, Orascom, offered to finish it in 2008, in return for rolling out KoryoLink, the official state owned 3G network). This monstrous waste of resources means that most of the remaining industrial plant is 1960s or 1970s vintage. The power shortages in the 1990s provided the coup de grace, but much of the damage to productive capacity had been done before then.

Sam Lord
28-12-2011, 05:13 PM
That could be said of any country run by a highly centralised and bureaucratic CP.


What could be said?:confused:



North Korea has never had an economy without small scale market activity, neither did the USSR(particularly agricultural). SIPTU has an elite that has dabbled into all kinds of inappropriate activities. That doesn't make it capitalist, nor would it make it all right for it to be closed down by FG.


:confused: SIPTU ? I have no idea what your point is.




The "nationalisation" of the banks in Ireland is completely different. It is entirely under the control of and being administered in the interests of finance capital.

[.....]

The situation in North Korea is plainly that it made some advances towards a state owned planned economy and that the private sector is subordinate.


It really does not matter one iota whether an economic elite owns the means of production directly or whether the state owns them and an economic elite controls the state. It amounts to the same thing at the end of the day. It is a big mistake to believe that the degree of "socialism" in any country is related to the extent of nationalisation. You can have a situation where the state owns just about everything and still have capitalism. When Yeltsin called in a group of people (who subsequently became know as the oligarchs) into a room in Moscow and divided up the state assets of the Soviet Union between them he did not pick some people at random off the street. They were prominent representatives of an exploiting class that already existed.


And look at Egypt. A huge proportion of the economy is owned by the army - a national institution. It is not direct private ownership but it is still capitalism. It is to benefit and enrich the officer class of the army and not the ordinary people. North Korea I suspect operates in a similar way - with the higher ranks of the army (and the bureaucracy) being the main beneficiaries of whatever economic activity is taking place. It really has nothing to do with socialism at all.




The same situation existed in the USSR.

North Korea has absolutely nothing in common with the Soviet Union of Lenin and Stalin - when the dictatorship of the proletariat was in effect and socialism was being built. Such an assertion is not only baseless but can have no other purpose than to discredit socialism.

TotalMayhem
28-12-2011, 05:27 PM
North Korea has absolutely nothing in common with the Soviet Union of Lenin and Stalin

Both excelled in starving their population and executing or incarcerating (perceived) dissidents in labour camps.


Such an assertion is not only baseless but can have no other purpose than to discredit socialism.

If you compare the numbers of victims, you may be right there . By Lenin's and Stalin's "standards", the North Koreans are rather poor socialist performers although they're doing not a bad job per capita.

Sam Lord
28-12-2011, 05:36 PM
Both excelled in starving their population and executing or incarcerating (perceived) dissidents in labour camps.


You should be thankful that the starving and incarcerated population was able to summon the energy to defeat the Nazi hordes.



If you compare the numbers of victims, you may be right there . By Lenin's and Stalin's "standards", the North Koreans are rather poor socialist performers although they're doing not a bad job per capita.

But both perform very poorly when compared to the numbers capitalism is starving to death on the rest of the planet every day.

C. Flower
28-12-2011, 05:51 PM
[QUOTE=Sam Lord;214793]What could be said?:confused:

:confused: SIPTU ? I have no idea what your point is.

It's an issue of class. Elites and bureaucracies can and do come into being in workers and peasants states, and in the parties and organisations of the working class. The presence or otherwise of an elite does not tell us what is the class character of a state.



It really does not matter one iota whether an economic elite owns the means of production directly or whether the state owns them and an economic elite controls the state. It amounts to the same thing at the end of the day.

Whatever happened to class analysis, and Marxism? The term "elite" is one much favoured by new world order politics, and conspiracy theory. The present of an elite doesn't tell us anything other than that a society is not a utopia. Elites are not abstractions - they exist in the context of who holds what power and control in a given state at a given time. Even in a socialist world economy, it would be a generation or so before all inequalities were done away with completely.


It is a big mistake to believe that the degree of "socialism" in any country is related to the extent of nationalisation.

How would you measure it?


You can have a situation where the state owns just about everything and still have capitalism.
There was some nationalisation under the nazis. However, the aim was entirely to preserve capitalism, under emergency conditions. In N. Korea there is no doubt that the ownership of nationalised property has been social, even though it has been controlled by an advantaged bureaucracy.
However, there has never been a capitalist state in which "the state owned just about everything." It would not be a capitalist state and would be opposed tooth and nail by capitalist forces.


When Yeltsin called in a group of people (who subsequently became know as the oligarchs) into a room in Moscow and divided up the state assets of the Soviet Union between hem he did not pick some people at random off the street. They were prominent representatives of an exploiting class that already existed.

They were originally highly advantaged bureaucrats. Their situation was transformed when they were gifted with ownership of formerly publicly owned assets.
The impact on the population was appalling, with many being thrown out of work overnight as the asset stripping was let rip. Public services ground to a halt and teachers and other workers left unpaid for many months. The death rate rocketed.



And look at Egypt. A huge proportion of the economy is owned by the army - a national institution. It is not direct private ownership but it is still capitalism. It is to benefit and enrich the officer class of the army and not the ordinary people.

The Egyptian army is bolstered, supported and supplied by the US, and can only be understood as an adjunct of it.


North Korea I suspect operates in a similar way - with the higher ranks of the army (and the bureaucracy) being the main beneficiaries of whatever economic activity is taking place. It really has nothing to do with socialism at all.

This analysis is superficial and depends entirely on appearance, not essence. By this method, a lettuce and a caterpillar are the same thing, if they are both green. How do you explain the antagonism between the US and North Korea, given you think N. Korea is entirely capitalist? A case of mental instability in the N. Korean leadership, to be cured by a few thousand NATO bombing raids?



North Korea has absolutely nothing in common with the Soviet Union of Lenin and Stalin - when the dictatorship of the proletariat was in effect and socialism was being built. Such an assertion is not only baseless but can have no other purpose than to discredit socialism.

Historically, N. Korea has rather a lot to do with the USSR. Kim's original name was Yuri :) The USSR knocked the Japanese out of occupying Korea (+) and refused to back N. Korea in liberating the South (-). When the USSR fell, N. Korea experienced appalling famine, as a consequence of losing fuel supplies and other supports.

I don't know enough about the N. Korean economy and the extent of nationalisation of resources to be in the position to give a definitive analysis of its class composition - which is why I raised the question of how does it compare with Mao's China, which was definitely not socialist.


You have not answered my questions to you about your views of the NEP and of Lenin having invited private entrepreneurs into Russia to open factories. Private markets have existed in Russia at all times in its history post 1917. The issue is the extent, and whether such activities were dominant in determining class character of the economy and state.


The situation in North Korea is plainly that it made some advances towards a state owned planned economy and that the private sector is subordinate.

The same situation existed in the USSR.

Outraged moralising about a selective quotation doesn't answer that question.

C. Flower
28-12-2011, 06:28 PM
The state owns the resources but many of the mines have either stopped production since the 1990s or output has fallen by up to 70% in places. I have read that the Chinese are taking over alot of the mineral resources though, and that the state seems to be getting a smaller amount of the return from joint-venture profits (see here (here) and here (here)). The only manufactured goods they produce in bulk are arms, vinalon textiles (which aren't exported, they use them for making uniforms), and cement.

The industrial base was always limited enough, but what really gave it a death blow was the failure to invest scarce resources in upgrading equipment in the latter half of the 1980s- the state instead chose to build a large number of very costly white elephants such as the sports facilities they built in the capital to show the world that Pyongyang could compete with Seoul, and the world's largest hotel, the 105-storey Ryugyong, which consumed 2% of the countries GDP between 1987 and 1992 (when it was abandoned half built due to lack of funds, and remained derelict until an Egyptian company, Orascom, offered to finish it in 2008, in return for rolling out KoryoLink, the official state owned 3G network). This monstrous waste of resources means that most of the remaining industrial plant is 1960s or 1970s vintage. The power shortages in the 1990s provided the coup de grace, but much of the damage to productive capacity had been done before then.

Thanks. There's a pretty good wiki page here on the economy. Bottlenecks in the extractive industries seem to have been a problem as well as dependence on importation of machinery.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_North_Korea

Kev Bar
28-12-2011, 07:52 PM
[quote]

It's an issue of class. Elites and bureaucracies can and do come into being in workers and peasants states, and in the parties and organisations of the working class. The presence or otherwise of an elite does not tell us what is the class character of a state.



Whatever happened to class analysis, and Marxism? The term "elite" is one much favoured by new world order politics, and conspiracy theory. The present of an elite doesn't tell us anything other than that a society is not a utopia. Elites are not abstractions - they exist in the context of who holds what power and control in a given state at a given time. Even in a socialist world economy, it would be a generation or so before all inequalities were done away with completely.



How would you measure it?


There was some nationalisation under the nazis. However, the aim was entirely to preserve capitalism, under emergency conditions. In N. Korea there is no doubt that the ownership of nationalised property has been social, even though it has been controlled by an advantaged bureaucracy.
However, there has never been a capitalist state in which "the state owned just about everything." It would not be a capitalist state and would be opposed tooth and nail by capitalist forces.



They were originally highly advantaged bureaucrats. Their situation was transformed when they were gifted with ownership of formerly publicly owned assets.
The impact on the population was appalling, with many being thrown out of work overnight as the asset stripping was let rip. Public services ground to a halt and teachers and other workers left unpaid for many months. The death rate rocketed.




The Egyptian army is bolstered, supported and supplied by the US, and can only be understood as an adjunct of it.

This analysis is superficial and depends entirely on appearance, not essence. By this method, a lettuce and a caterpillar are the same thing, if they are both green. How do you explain the antagonism between the US and North Korea, given you think N. Korea is entirely capitalist? A case of mental instability in the N. Korean leadership, to be cured by a few thousand NATO bombing raids?



Historically, N. Korea has rather a lot to do with the USSR. Kim's original name was Yuri :) The USSR knocked the Japanese out of occupying Korea (+) and refused to back N. Korea in liberating the South (-). When the USSR fell, N. Korea experienced appalling famine, as a consequence of losing fuel supplies and other supports.

I don't know enough about the N. Korean economy and the extent of nationalisation of resources to be in the position to give a definitive analysis of its class composition - which is why I raised the question of how does it compare with Mao's China, which was definitely not socialist.


You have not answered my questions to you about your views of the NEP and of Lenin having invited private entrepreneurs into Russia to open factories. Private markets have existed in Russia at all times in its history post 1917. The issue is the extent, and whether such activities were dominant in determining class character of the economy and state.



Outraged moralising about a selective quotation doesn't answer that question.

I think the $3 billion in aid merely pays the rent and allows the officer class to devote the time necessary to serve their true ambition - making money out of State monopolies or out of their position of advantage

C. Flower
28-12-2011, 10:26 PM
I think the $3 billion in aid merely pays the rent and allows the officer class to devote the time necessary to serve their true ambition - making money out of State monopolies or out of their position of advantage

It's not only cash - it's supplies - 21 tons of CS gas was stopped by workers at the port of Suez last week - training, intelligence support, multiple daily calls from the State Department...

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/10/13/egyptian-military-u-s-funded-democracy-crushers.html

And, look across the border at Libya and see what happens to generals who don't do what they are told.