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Rare survey of N. Korean residents shows animosity toward regime's anti-market activities

All Headlines 04:35 October 05, 2016

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4 (Yonhap) -- North Koreans feel the most animosity toward the regime when it cracks down on their efforts to eke out a living through market and entrepreneurial activities, a rare survey of North Koreans living in the communist nation has found, according to a U.S. think tank Tuesday.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said it commissioned the survey of 36 people as part of its "Beyond Parallel" project on North Korea. The participants were from various provinces across the North, aged between 28-80, and had jobs such as laborer, doctor, homemaker, factory worker, cook and sauna worker.

CSIS did not provide further details, including who conducted the survey and when.

The key findings are that North Koreans know they do not live in a socialist paradise, they no longer rely on the public distribution system and they express "the most animosity toward the government when it undercuts their entrepreneurial activities," CSIS said in a report.

"The results of the poll are telling. Respondents' discontent with the regime was evidenced by their very negative responses to the question 'Does the public distribution system provide you with what you want for a good life?' Zero of 36 respondents indicated that they currently receive enough through the public distribution system to maintain a good life," it said.

Given the growing significance of market activities in the lives of North Koreans, it is not surprising that "anger over government predation of market activities and individuals' entrepreneurial efforts to better their lives was prevalent," the report said.

In particular, many respondents said the regime's 2009 currency reform "caused them to feel the greatest animosity toward the regime." Under the currency reform, the North put a limit on the amount of money citizens can exchange for new bills, rendering the excess cash worthless.

"From the voices of North Koreans themselves, for the first time, we hear them saying their system does not work for regular citizens," the report said.

"Through reliance on the North Korean system alone, these citizens are not able to achieve their standards for a good life. North Koreans are angered when the regime interferes with the people's entrepreneurial efforts to improve their lives on their own," it said.

jschang@yna.co.kr
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