The North Korean Economy: Sustainable or Muddling-Through?
Confronting the continuing economic sanctions, the flood disaster, and the COVID 19, North Korea is now in a critical phase whether the North Korean economy will shift to a sustainable economy or, as it has done in the past three decades, barely manage to maintain at a survival level. To explore the question, this study investigates North Korea's economic policy changes by extracting the keywords from the North Korean economic journal Economic Research, which is a representative state published document. We use a text mining approach to overcome limitations, such as the lack of objectivity and accuracy of the classification of topics in manual text analysis for North Korean studies. Contrary to the conventional assumption that the North Korean economic policies are driven by dogmatic Juche (self-reliance) ideology, we find that the strategy of economic policies differs depending on the leader and political and economic circumstances at the time. In particular, since Kim Jong-un assumed office in 2011, the topics have diversified, and now cover a wide range of subjects on capitalism. Nevertheless, without North Korea's decisive reform measures and international cooperation, it will be hard to observe that the North Korean economy can go beyond 'muddling-through' for sustainable development.
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