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[Video Report] N.Korea Regulation Officer at Market

The video was filmed at a market in Pyongyang in August 2007. A regulation officer, wearing an armband, is kicking out a woman selling without permission. This kind of scene occurs across the nation.

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Regulation officers crack down on sellers at markets. They belong to the Commercial Management Department under local administrations (the Provisional People’s Committee of North Korea).

Because of massive social chaos during the 90’s– colloquially known as the “arduous march” –a conventional, small-sized farmer’s market became interlinked with a growing black market, giving rise to larger black markets all over the country.

As the food rationing system became paralyzed, a majority of residents started to make their living out of conducting business within the markets. The market economy then dramatically spread across the entire country. Black markets turned into general markets and became formally legalized in March 2003.

Related article: [Video Report] Chinese products and currency are playing a vital role in North Korean market

Since 2010, the general market has further expanded in size and scale and has installed more sophisticated facilities to operate under. The state authority has started to systematically organize the general market in three ways: 1) each item is designated to specific selling areas, 2) some products are prohibited from sale, and 3) an improvement in hygienic conditions.

In the general market regulation officers kick out sellers who do not have permission to sell. Cracking down on those without permission is an essential part to their job.

At the market merchants are owners of the stalls, which are around 80 cm wide. Ownership comes with a tax, called “Jangsae”, which is essentially a land tax.

Sellers outside of the general market are also targeted by regulation officers. They have to pay Jangsae as well. However, many of the sellers outside the market are so poor that they cannot pay the tax, arguments ensue because these sellers are dissatisfied with the officers.

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