Cate Mackenzie

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Development Possibilities in the DPRK

Informal markets – pointing the way forward?

Informal markets – pointing the way forward? Image: fresh888/flickr

Next Tuesday, July 19th, ISN partner organization the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) will be hosting a one-day conference in Washington, DC exploring various transformations inside North Korea that will have significant implications for the regime, as well as for US policy toward North Korea. Speakers at the event include a group of Seoul-based North Korean defectors, as well as various USIP experts.

Informal Markets and Peacebuilding in North Korea” is part of a multi-stage USIP research project on informal markets in North Korea, drawing upon key findings from ongoing interviews with defectors, as well as the Northeast Asia Track 1.5 dialogues. With regard to North Korea, the role of informal markets is largely understudied: most research either focuses or speculates on nuclear weapons development, or troubled relations with South Korea, the US and other Asian states. This conference breaks new ground in examining the remarkable transformations that have been taking place at the local level: Informal markets constitute important coping mechanisms and survival strategies for members of diverse socioeconomic groups close to the Sino-North Korean border.

Topics to be discussed in greater detail include the impact of remittances, the role of women in informal markets and the role of technology in helping expand the scale and scope of these markets. At the macro level, how might these markets contribute to peacebuilding in North Korea, and along the Sino-North Korean border?

Over 100 participants are expected, ranging from US Government policy-makers to academics and civil society representatives. With this conference, USIP is hoping to reach a diverse range of communities, beyond those ‘traditionally’ interested in North Korea in order to help develop and stimulate cross-cutting discussion on crisis prevention in the state. USIP has commissioned several papers for the event, to be published in an edited volume following their review.


Suggested Reading


Money Makers as Peace Makers?
Business Actors in Mediation Processes

Despite a growing number of practical examples of business engagement in conflict transformation, there are only few insights into the contributions of business actors to mediation processes. This swisspeace working paper sheds light on the issue by assessing the types of business actors that are involved in mediation processes and how and when they can best be involved in mediation.


Economic Growth and Poverty
Does Formalisation of Informal Enterprises Matter?

This paper examines the importance of the informal sector of the economy, focusing on the provision of employment, income and supplies for ignored markets. It introduces basic features of informal markets, reviews entry barriers to the formal sector of the economy and discusses the link between the informal sector, economic growth and poverty.


Pyongyang’s Failed Currency Reform
In this publication, the author notes that in North Korea’s surprise confiscatory currency reform in November 2009, enormous limits were placed on North Korean’s ability to convert cash holdings, in effect wiping out considerable household savings and the working capital of many private entrepreneurs.


The Real Bridge to Nowhere
China’s Foiled North Korea Strategy

This report examines relations between China and North Korea, and particularly the sensitive issue of China’s border areas. China’s goals of deepening cross-border economic transactions through a more open border are challenged by the increased threats to local security presented by a porous border with a fragile state.


For more information about the conference, visit USIP’s dedicated event website.


Originally published here by the International Relations and Security Network (ISN).

Small image via Joseph A Ferris III/flickr.

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This entry was posted on July 12, 2011 by in Posts and tagged , , .

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