Economic Development Under Kim Jong-un

By Maximilian Ernst and Eliana Kim

North Korean Review 
Vol. 16, No. 2 (FALL 2020), pp. 26-48 (23 pages) 
Published By: McFarland & Company


Article Type: Research paper Purpose— The paper reviews various established sources and statistics in the study of North Korea's economy in order to assess the added value of empirically collected data on traffic in North Korea derived from satellite imagery. The collected data are used to evaluate the impact of economic policy directives during Kim Jongun's rule on North Korea's economic development. Design, Methodology, Approach— Source triangulation is applied to create a robust and falsifiable account of North Korea's economic development based on existing and new data sources. Findings— Policy directives by the North Korean government appear to retain limited impact on North Korea's economy. Whereas foreign trade and GDP appear to be profoundly influenced by sanctions, data on construction and the newly introduced traffic data are not in sync with these indicators, as they don't follow the downward trend. Originality Value— Established statistics on GDP growth, foreign trade, marketization, and construction are combined with empirically collected data on traffic, derived from satellite imagery, to inform the study of North Korea's economic development