‘Dialogue’ covers North Korea's foreign currency reserves, one of the most difficult subjects among outside experts, looking into the theory and history of dollarization in North Korea where large trade deficits have been around since the 1990s. At the North Korean Economic Research Forum held in April, titled ‘Where is the North Korean Economy Heading in 2021?’ participants agreed that COVID-19, US-China relations, and North Korea-China relations are significant variables of the North Korean economy this year, and that the key areas to observe are trade, market rice prices, and market exchange rates.
‘Trends and Analysis’ carries a total of six articles. According to 'North Korea's Agricultural and Food Conditions: 2020 Trends and 2021 Prospects' and 'Trends and Assessment of the Metals and Chemicals Industries, the Core Industries of the Five-Year National Economic Development Plan,' the difficulties in North Korea will continue, but some recovery might be possible if the chemicals industry receives intensive investment and can make notable achievements in R&D. In 'North Korea's COVID-19 Response and Current Situation' and 'Trends of the North Korean Economy after Border Blockade: Diagnosis and Prospects,' contributors point out that North Korea needs to be more open and cooperative with the outside world, calling for a close monitoring of the changes in North Korea-China trade volume—which can be a key reflection of North Korea’s economic situation. In 'Kim Jong Eun's Great Leap Forward: Playing Hopscotch with Grandpa,' Dr. William B. Brown, Director at the NAEIA, delivers an interpretation of the sensitive situation facing the North Korean economy based on historical backgrounds. He then emphasizes that North Korea's proposals should be considered in light of its unique vulnerabilities (for instance, dollarization, the wage and price differences between the formal and informal sectors, etc.). In 'North Korea Sanctions and Food Insecurity: Future Direction of Public Policy in the Global Community?' Prof. Hazel Smith of SOAS University of London points out that the UN regulation mandates an evaluation of the impact of North Korea sanctions on its food security, but so far, this has not taken place at all. In the long term, she saw the need to support the recovery of domestic food production by lifting some of the UN's oil import restrictions, and in the short and medium term, the focus should be on the recovery of agricultural productivity.