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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Gettin' high in Hyesan, and other tales

The Tower of Juche Idea statue in central Pyon...
The Tower of Juche Idea statue in central Pyongyang. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
















Team America faces new challenges, Marginal Revolution says:

*North Korea Confidential*

by  on April 16, 2015 at 12:15 am in BooksCurrent AffairsEconomicsPolitical Science | Permalink
That is the new book by Daniel Tudor and James Pearson, the subtitle is Private Markets, Fashion Trends, Prison Camps, Dissenters and Defectors.  The basic message is that North Korea is far more (black) marketized — and more corrupt — than most outsiders realize.  Here is one representative passage:
Homes near the Sino-North Korean border are apparently quite expensive, since living there offers good business opportunities, and the ability to access Chinese cell phone networks.  There are reports of high-quality apartments changing hands for US$30,000 in the border city of Hyesan, for instance.  But this pales in comparison to the upmarket areas of the capital: a decent apartment in the central Pyongyang district of Mansudae (which is now jokingly referred to by expats as “Dubai” or “Pyonghattan”) will change hands for US$100,000 or more.  There are even those who talk of US$250,000 apartments.
A fascinating look at the hard to access part of the Hermit Kingdom, definitely recommended and as far as I know this book has no close substitute.
By the way, in Pyongyang, rain boots are seen as quite fashionable footwear.  And it can take up to a week to cross the (small) country by train.  In the border city of Hyesan, up to ten percent of the population may be involved in the meth trade.
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