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No. of N. Korea's official markets increasing

2017/03/16 14:26

SEOUL, March 16 (Yonhap) -- The number of official markets in North Korea has been on a rapid increase under the connivance of the authorities, a U.S. broadcaster said Thursday.

"The number was recently confirmed to be 439 via an analysis of satellite images of the communist country by Curtis Melvin, a researcher at the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University in the United States, Radio Free Asia said.

The figure was an increase of 40 from a year ago, with some 1-1.8 million people estimated to be using the markets.

Markets in the North show an upward trend in their numbers and scale, which is more noticeable under the Kim Jong-un regime, the broadcaster said.

A North Korean market in Pyongyang (Yonhap)     A North Korean market in Pyongyang (Yonhap)

The activation of markets is helping the North develop its domestic economy, with more individuals finding business opportunities, North Korean defectors and experts here voiced in unison.

Kim Jong-un has made inspections of many different sites as official business, but has not visited markets thus far, as they run counter to The North's socialist philosophy.

Despite that, some opine that the North Korean authorities are propagandizing the development of markets as Kim's achievements.

"For their part, the authorities can make such propaganda, as the livelihoods of North Koreans are improved through the bolstering of markets," Park In-ho, a director of the Seoul-based North Korea specialist website Daily NK, said.

Therefore, Kim is virtually tolerating marketization, he added.