August 28, 2018 10:40
A new class of moneyed people who get rich from officially sanctioned open-air markets is playing an ever growing role in the North Korean economy, according to a report by a U.S. think tank.
The number of such markets has doubled over the past decade, and money lenders known as donju, or "money masters" are a vital prop to the economy and the regime, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.
The report titled "The Markets: Private Economy and Capitalism in North Korea?" by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington found that there are "at least 436 officially sanctioned markets" across North Korea and that "the estimated revenue generated for the government through taxes and fees imposed on those markets is approximately $56.8 million per year."
They range in size from 256 sq.m to 23,557 sq.m. The biggest, Sunam market in Chongjin, makes an estimated $849,329 a year in taxes and rents for the government, the report says.
The WSJ said the money masters function as private banks in a country without an authorized financial market. They are amassing wealth through projects related to state-run corporations and investing in various government development projects.
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