Looking beyond the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula, Worldfocus Radio examines the economy of one of the most isolated countries on earth.
North Korea has a per capita income of around $1,800 and continues to be the poorest nation in East Asia. The country still relies on heavy industry and military spending — in addition to huge amounts of food and fuel aid.
But we know little about the country’s black markets. And we struggle to find accurate statistics on the nation’s true standard of living.
Martin Savidge hosts Barbara Demick of the LA Times and Leon Sigal of the Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project. They discuss:
- North Korea’s post-Cold War isolation
- recent currency devaluation
- impact of closing underground markets
- China’s strategy of engaging North Korea
- prospects of U.S. economic engagement
- other investments (such Egypt’s Orascom)
Barbara Demick is the Beijing bureau chief for the LA Times and author of the new book Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea. She has reported extensively on economic and social changes inside the country.
Leon Sigal is director of the Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council in New York. He has authored several books, including Disarming Strangers: Nuclear Diplomacy with North Korea.
Host: Martin Savidge
Producers: Ben Piven and Lisa Biagiotti