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North Korean Economic Studies

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.

Scope of Research and Activities
  • Current status of the North Korean economy
  • Inter-Korean exchanges and economic cooperation
  • Economic transition and integration
  • Economic security and risk factors on the Korean peninsula
  • Expansion of the global network for studies on the North Korean economy
Dialogue
Price and Foreign Exchange Rate in North Korea: Observations, Trends, and Analysis

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.

Dialogue
North Korea’s GDP: Features and Issues

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.

DPRK
2020/2021 The DPRK Economic Outlook

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.

Working Paper
The Economic Reform of North Korea in the Kim Jong Un Era: Status & Evaluation

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.

Research Digest
Finding Loopholes in Sanctions: Effects of Sanctions on North Korea’s Refined Oil Prices

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.

Research Monograph
Measures for Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation and Collaboration with North Korea to Incorporate North Korea into the Global Economy

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.

Report VOD
The Quantitative Growth in North Korea's Trade : Is it Enough?

Kyoochul KimSeptember 05, 2018

Periodical
KDI Review of the North Korean Economy

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.