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Although accurate numbers are hard to come by, Chen Xiaohe, an expert on North Korea from Renmin University in China, estimates that GDP has grown since 2011 at between 1.7 and 2 percent. “This is a small economic improvement, but if we compare it with his father Kim Jong-il, the economy is today more stable and there is some economic development,” he says.
On the streets of Pyongyang, the minor “adjustments” – North Korean politicians don’t like the word “reform” because they consider it too daring – are easy to spot. The last few years have seen a host of cranes and building activity. The Ryugyong Hotel, which started construction in 1987 and wasn’t finished until 2011, now stands as a modern landmark in the capital. “Kim Jong-un has been spending a lot of money. They’ve been building a lot in Pyongyang and also along the border with China, where you’ll see new roads, some houses and new statues,” says Catchart, who has serious doubts about how long they can keep with the construction boom.
The economic growth has allowed for improved living conditions for most North Koreans, especially for those at the top. Kim Jong-un has gotten rid of his father’s austerity policy and Pyongyang has seen an increase in the number of privately run restaurants, luxury stores, and cellphones users. Four years ago it was difficult to spot a car in the North Korean capital, but today there are small traffic jams during rush hour.
The youthfulness of Kim Jong-un has proven to be more relevant, at least according to North Korean standards, in the promotion of a more modern and liberal society. Women, especially in Pyongyang, are wearing shorter skirts and higher high-heels, similar to those worn by North Korean girl-group Moranbong Band – and approved personally by the new president. At the bottom of Mansu Hill, where North Koreans start to queue up to pay tribute to Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, today it is not difficult to find elegant women with short hair styles that wouldn’t be out of place in New York, London or Tokyo.
Long reliant on China to survive economically, Mr Kim gave hints in his early days in power that he would try to introduce similar liberalisation measures that have helped turn China into an economic powerhouse. International trade was initially impacted by United Nations sanctions imposed after missile and nuclear tests, but that appears to have recovered in recent months. Mr Jang was spearheading the drive in a new economic direction and had built close economic ties with China before he fell foul of the North Korean military. Mr Kim's future economic policies are likely to be heavily influenced by what is in the military's best interests.
Projects for the people:
Previous generations of the Kim dynasty simply did not care very much about the well-being or happiness of the people; money went to the armed forces, under the "military-first" policy, or was spent on luxuries for the elite in society. Apparently influenced by the years he spent at a private school in Switzerland, Mr Kim has apparently decided to spend some of the nation's cash on projects to keep the people happy. Or at least the privileged few who are loyal to the regime and permitted to live in Pyongyang. A brightly coloured water park has opened in the capital, residential districts have been spruced up and new hospitals, schools and gyms constructed. The massive May Day Stadium is being renovated, a riding club with 60 horses has been constructed in Pyongyang and – in the most ambitious project – thousands of "soldier-workers" are labouring to build the Masik Pass Skiing Ground over more than 68 miles of mountainside, complete with cable cars, a hotel, equipment stores, restaurants and a heliport.
originally posted by: xuenchen
They don't call it the Democratic People's Republic of Korea for nothing.
I wonder how much gas costs there?