Is capitalism coming to Kim Jong-un's North Korea?
According to South Korean daily Chosun Ilbo, North Koreans who got rich thanks to state-backed monopolies are being encouraged by the regime to open small banks across the capital in a bid to boost the free economy. Some of the money-lenders even have installed ATMs, though these are restricted to hotels, the newspaper reports, citing a source who often travels to Pyongyang.
An old North Korean 1000 won banknote. Wikipedia
Chosun Ilbo however notes that this isn't a sign that the dire state of the country's economy is improving. On the contrary, the gap between rich and poor is growing, as is discontent among the population.
The newspaper also reports that, according to another source, wreaths laid at the tomb of Kim Jong-suk, wife of regime founder Kim Il-sung, were damaged on the anniversary of her death. No doubt, banks or no banks, someone is bound to pay for that.