Author Archives: Yong Kwon

About Yong Kwon

I develop trade advocacy strategies for a DC-based consulting firm. Studied economic history at the London School of Economics, and can be found on twitter at @ykwon88

Price instability in Hyesan

Rice & Iron team has been interested in the city of Hyesan for a long time. While rice prices in this border city are often higher than those in Pyongyang and Sinuiju, Hyesan has traditionally enjoyed lower price volatility relative … Continue reading

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July to July assessment, 2014

Last July, we provided an assessment of the yearly changes in rice prices and speculated on what the movements revealed about the market conditions in North Korea. In that article, we noted then that the nominal price of rice had … Continue reading

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A quick look at economic conditions in the post-Kim Il Sung era

It has been 20 years since the death of Kim Il-sung and North Korea is still reeling from the consequences of his economic mishandling. However, many North Koreans appear to have fond memories of the Kim Il-sung era, perhaps because … Continue reading

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Purchasing power of foreign exchange and Pyongyang’s dilemma

Channeling the works of Amartya Sen, we at Rice & Iron have often argued that the price of food and the people’s command over income matter far more than the country’s aggregate grain output. Therefore, indices such as wages and … Continue reading

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Pyongyang’s growing concern with environmental degradation

We noted in a recent post that the North Korean state was taking active measures to decisively control the rural sector. One of the signs that led us to this conclusion was the state’s active enforcement of the de jure … Continue reading

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Of weathermen, farmers, and the state

One June 10, Rodong Sinmun reported that Kim Jong-un provided field guidance at the national hydro-meteorological service, directing the institute’s staff to improve their delivery of “meteorological and climatic information required by various fields of national economy.” Taking into account Pyongyang’s … Continue reading

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Is Pyongyang’s investment in steel prudent?

In April we made the claim that allocating a greater share of Pyongyang’s budget to achieve a 108.3% increase in the country’s annual steel output is unproductive. Instead of steel, we argued that increasing consumer goods production to ensure market … Continue reading

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