N.Korea 'Setting Up Fall Guy for Currency Reform'

      December 03, 2009 10:44

      While it is likely that the controversial decision to reform North Korea's currency came from leader Kim Jong-il himself, the regime is making sure that Premier Kim Yong-il is seen as being personally in charge, sources in the reclusive country said Wednesday. Why?

      Experts say this is so that the premier can take the fall for the supreme leader if things go terribly wrong.

      In 2002, the leadership demoted then Premier Pak Pong-ju, who supervised the July 1 economic reforms, to manager of a local factory after the introduction of a modicum of market capitalism caused problems including soaring prices.  

      But Kim Yong-il is widely seen as having spearheaded the regime's ongoing war against private enterprise, including a massive crackdown in spring on the Pyongsong Market in South Pyongan Province, the largest in the North. He also downsized major markets and relocated jobless people to collective farms.

      Some experts believe that the actual brain behind the currency reform is Pak Nam-gi, the director of the Financial Planning Department of the Workers' Party, who is in charge of the civilian economy.

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