The main mission of the KDI Office of the North Korean Economic Studies is to observe and analyze the trends, structures, and issues of the North Korean economy, and publish the results through a variety of mediums including the KDI Review of the North Korean Economy (monthly journal), research and policy reports, and academic papers. Of these, three major series, DPRK Economic Outlook, Dialogue, and Working Paper*, are also published in English thanks to the efforts of not only the fellows and associates of the Office of North Korean Economic Studies but also co-editor, Prof. Hazel Smith of SOAS, London. * DPRK Economic Outlook outlines the annual trends of the North Korean economy while Dialogue features interviews with leading experts on North Korea, and Working Paper presents analyses of prominent issues.
May 31, 2022
Over the past three decades, North Korea has experienced a period of economic change, most notably in the development of the market. North Korea maintains that it operates a tightly controlled planned economy, the elements of which are poorly understood by the international community. Currently, the economic system is supported by informal market activities that are the main source of income for the majority of ordinary economic players. Accordingly, economic researchers around the world have pivoted their focus toward the market activities in North Korea.
Byung-Yeon KimFebruary, 2022
This paper evaluates Kim Jong-un’s economic policies on markets, outlines the economic activities of North Korean households in markets, and analyzes the effects of economic sanctions on such activities.
February 7, 2022
In the study of the North Korean economy, industrial and business activities still remain uncharted territory. They are the most basic components of an economy, yet the scarcity of information makes those in North Korea almost impossible to understand from the outside world. Today, the general perception is that North Korea’s industrial and business activities have completely changed from those of past socialist economies. In fact, rather than central plans, capitalist factors such as markets and profit are becoming the daily standards, and North Korea’s industry and business activities are by no means exceptions to these so-called changes and economic reforms. To understand the present status and future direction of the North Korean economy, it is important to grasp how industry is managed and business activities are conducted.
October 21, 2021
One of the most important variables in the study of the North Korean economy is market prices and foreign exchange rates. This is because of the assumption that the two variables immediately reflect the status and trends of the North Korean economy. In fact, many North Korean economic studies use observations on these variables as important analysis data. Despite such reality, however, market price and the foreign exchange rate are among the trickiest of all macroeconomic variables related to the economy. Researchers have yet to agree as to how the variables should be measured, what kind of methods should be used to analyze the measures, and how the outcomes should be interpreted.
July 28, 2021
The basis for studying the North Korean economy is to gain an understanding of the size of the overall economy and the trends within it. However, owing to the fact that North Korea does not release data on its GDP and GNI, the task has fallen on the shoulders of outside researchers and such institutions as the Bank of Korea (BOK). Still, with such a lack of official data, the estimates produced have been subject to much controversy, and the question of accuracy and propriety remains unanswered.
July 8, 2021
The North Korean economy was driven to the proverbial brink in 2020 by the Covid-19 crisis and escalating fallout from the stronger sanctions since 2016. At the beginning of the year, the regime sealed off its borders to China and Russia in an effort to ward off the virus, and did not reopen them until the following year. Inevitably, overseas trade was brought to a near collapse as transactions with China plummeted by 80% year-on-year. It is easy to estimate how dire the situation was in 2020 when we consider the fact that North Korea’s trade with China was already at a mere 50% of the previous year in 2019.
June 10, 2021
This paper aims to identify major economic reform measures conducted by North Korea in the Kim Jong Un era and evaluate the characteristics, accomplishments, and limitations of the reform policy. After running several pilot programs since 2012, starting 2014, North Korea began to implement the so-called “Our Style Economic Management System” and “Socialist Enterprise Responsibility Management System.” These are characterized by the expansion of the scope of activities officially allowed to conduct in the market and the incorporation of market mechanism into the planning system.
Kyoochul KimJanuary 6, 2020
During 2016 and 2017, North Korea conducted three nuclear tests and four missile launches, and in response, the international community strengthened its sanctions against North Korea. The sanctions are aimed at deterring North Korea from developing nuclear weapons, and in order to achieve this, the main means are to block the inflow of foreign currency into North Korea and to ban the import of goods related to its nuclear development efforts.
Suk LeeDecember 31, 2019
This study examines the significance and implications of North Korea's full participation in the global economy from the perspective of the South Korean economy. It begins with an objective assessment of how today’s North Korean economy differs from the general market economy, or more specifically, the economic systems of the many other countries engaged in the global economy. It then explores the concept, contents and process of North Korea's participation and presents relevant case studies on and outcomes of other countries in similar situations―thus, it can be a meaningful reference.
Kyoochul KimSeptember 05, 2018
Monthly published paper on the current status of the North Korean economy and major issues on inter-Korean economic cooperation assisting academia, policy makers and corporate sectors to better understand North Korea.