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Unification minister says N. Korea's socialist rationing system has collapsed

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Unification Minister Kim Yung-ho walks to the front of the National Assembly to give a report on North Korean issues during a general meeting of ruling People Power Party lawmakers in Seoul,  June 14. Yonhap

Unification Minister Kim Yung-ho walks to the front of the National Assembly to give a report on North Korean issues during a general meeting of ruling People Power Party lawmakers in Seoul, June 14. Yonhap

Unification Minister Kim Yung-ho said Friday that North Korea's socialist rationing system has completely collapsed, leading people to rely on local "jangmadang" markets for survival.

Kim made the assessment during a general meeting of ruling People Power Party lawmakers, citing a report published by his ministry in February based on interviews conducted between 2013 and 2023 with 6,351 North Korean defectors.

"North Korea's socialist rationing system has completely collapsed," he said during the meeting at the National Assembly. "The North Korean people are going out to jangmadang to live their lives and internal marketization is accelerating."

Citing the report, Kim said around 36 percent of North Korea's population owns a cellphone, which translates to around 7 million cellphones, for use in exchanging information and watching South Korean TV dramas.

More than 50 percent of North Korean defectors acknowledged having given a bribe while they were in the North, pointing to a "structuralization of corruption," he said.

Kim also said the North Korean people are undergoing a major shift in psychology from collectivism to individualism and showing signs of "deepening distrust of the regime."

He further attributed the North Korean regime's recent policy decision not to seek reunification with South Korea as part of its attempts to shield its people from harboring yearnings for South Korean society in an ultimate quest to maintain power. (Yonhap)



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