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

North Korea 15:43 February 13, 2020

(ATTN: CHANGES number of defectors surveyed in para 2-3 with updated data)

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 North Korean defectors, 48 percent said that they had made a living in the private sector, including working full-time and part-time jobs from 2016-2019.

The survey was conducted on around 6,000 defectors starting in 2013, including about 600 people who settled in South Korea in 2019, they said.

The figure has been on the rise since it 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.


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