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Nearly half of defectors engage in private economic activities while in N. Korea: poll

All News 11:54 February 13, 2020

SEOUL, Feb. 13 (Yonhap) -- Nearly half of North Korean defectors had experience of engaging in private-sector economic activities back in the communist nation, a poll showed Thursday.

According to the poll conducted by the Korean Association of North Korean Studies and Hyundai Research Institute on 600 people who defected to the South from 2016-2019, 48 percent said that they had made a living in the private sector, including working full-time and part-time jobs.

The figure has been on the rise since the figure was found to be 34.1 percent in a similar survey conducted on people who defected between 2006 and 2010, when it outstripped the ratio of state-sector activities for the first time.

North Korea has been known for strong regulation of economic activities but it appears to be easing its grip on markets, allowing private transactions among people struggling with shortages of supplies from the government.

Of those polled, 25.8 percent said that local markets, also known as "jangmadang," have "significantly" expanded over the past decade.

With regard to mobile phone penetration, the survey showed that 41 percent used mobile phones from 2016-2019, spiking from a mere 0.5 percent before 2000.

Of those surveyed, 90.7 percent said that they ate three meals a day, up from 32.1 percent before 2000. Rice accounted for 38.8 percent of their daily diet, much higher than the 11 percent tallied before 2000.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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