Success and Failure of North Korean Development Strategy

Discussion Papers

No.769

by Masahiko Nakagawa

March 2020

ABSTRACT

This study seeks to clarify the characteristics of the DPRK development strategy, examining how a self-reliant development strategy led to economic difficulties in the country. The author describes how the strategy to construct a self-sufficient economy negatively affected investment capital, production costs, and the trade balance, causing problems that included a foreign debt problem, a lack of consumer goods in the 1970s and 1980s, and a shortage of food and energy in the 1990s. North Korea’s self-supporting economic structure has persisted, despite food and power shortages. Today’s economic growth, led by personal consumption, is strengthening this structure. It has been argued that a serious challenge to the self-supporting structure will arise during the next stage of economic development.

Keywords: self-reliance, heavy industry, shortage of consumer goods, foreign debt

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