In late November and early December 2009, North Korea officially revalued its currency — the won — replacing 1,000-won notes with 10-won notes and strictly limiting the amount of old currency that could be exchanged. North Koreans were threatened with "merciless punishment" for defiance of the new currency rules and were told they had only a week to exchange a maximum of 100,000 won per person of the old currency for new bills. The move sent shock waves through North Korea as citizens lost their savings and saw their money suddenly become worthless. There were reports of citizens rushing to black-market moneychangers to cash in their won for more stable U.S. dollars and Chinese yuan. Then Pyongyang issued stern warnings about using foreign currency. [Source: Radio Free Asia, March 27, 2013]

On November 30, North Korea announced the directive. At that time the won trading on the black market at about 3,500 to the U.S. dollar. Although people were allowed to exchange currency — at a rate of 100 to one –– only a small amount could be changed and action had to be taken in a few days. According to the Los Angeles Times: “People had just one week to trade in their money for new notes, and they were given a limit: Each family could exchange 100,000 old won for 1,000 new won, the equivalent of less than $30. Any cash in excess of the limit would become invalid -- meaning life savings were being wiped out with the stroke of a pen.” Sf slightly better off North Koreans who had managed to put aside money through trading were particularly hard hit. [Source: Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, Tania Branigan, The Guardian, Agencies, March 18, 2010]

The move was seen as a further rollback of reforms that had been occurring in North Korea in the 1990s and 2000s. Unable to feed its people, the government began allowing some markets in 2002, including some permitting farmers to trade in produce. While an economic success, the markets also sold banned goods such as movies and soap operas from rival South Korea. The country's largest wholesale market in Pyongyang was reportedly shut down in mid-June in 2009.

Blaine Harden wrote in the Washington Post: “China's Xinhua news agency said in a report from Pyongyang that state-run shops were closed Tuesday as sales staff posted new prices on goods. The exchange of old currency for new began Monday and will end on Sunday, Xinhua said, adding that the government did not explain why the revaluation had occurred. In the past year, North Korea has put increasing pressure on local markets, closing several large ones and limiting the range of goods that can be sold in them. The government has also criminalized everyday market behavior, while creating a new kind of gulag for those it deems economic criminals, according to a report released this fall by the East-West Center, a research organization established by Congress to promote understanding of Asia. [Source: Blaine Harden, Washington Post, December 2, 2009]

Chaos After the Devaluation of the North Korean Money

Blaine Harden wrote in the Washington Post: “Chaos reportedly erupted in North Korea on after the government of Kim Jong Il revalued the country's currency, sharply restricting the amount of old bills that could be traded for new and wiping out personal savings. The revaluation and exchange limits triggered panic and anger, particularly among market traders with substantial hoards of old North Korean won — much of which has apparently become worthless, according to news agency reports from South Korea and China and from groups with contacts in North Korea. [Source: Blaine Harden, Washington Post, December 2, 2009]

“The sudden currency move appeared to be part of a continuing effort by the government to crack down on private markets, which have become an essential part of the food-supply system in chronically hungry North Korea. In recent years, some market traders have stashed away substantial amounts of cash, while establishing themselves in profitable businesses that the government struggles to control. But under the rules of the new currency system, the wealth of these traders has largely disappeared, unless it is held in Euros, dollars or Chinese yuan.

“The revaluation replaces 1,000 won notes with 10 won notes, but strictly limits the amount of old currency that can be exchanged, news reports said. According to two web-based groups with sources in the North, that limit was set Monday at 100,000 won, which at current black-market rates amounts to just $40. All North Korean currency that individuals possess in excess of that amount becomes worthless, under the revaluation.

Barbara Demick wrote in the Los Angeles Times: Unlike in Pyongyang, where people had seven days' notice, the currency changeover in Musan took place within 48 hours, Song Hee said. "People were in shock. Our money was becoming like water. With the psychological stress, many people had to go to the hospital," she said. As far as she knew, nobody dared to disobey the order for fear of punishment. "We were told that somebody decided he would burn the money instead of giving it to the government. The money had the picture of Kim Il Sung, and because he burned it he was shot to death for treason," Song Hee said. [Source: Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, March 25, 2010]

“Immediately after the currency revaluation was announced, police shut down the markets where people had been buying most of their food. In theory, people were supposed to buy it from state stores at subsidized prices. But the state stores had no food and people were forced to scrounge for whatever they could purchase at exorbitant prices from black marketeers. By the end of December, North Korean authorities had retracted the ban on markets. But the merchants had lost all their cash and couldn't restock their merchandise. Meanwhile, the Chinese traders who had previously supplied markets didn't want to come into the country because of bans imposed on the use of foreign currency and the wildly fluctuating exchange rates.”

Anger and Panic Over the Devaluation of the North Korean Money

The revaluation of the North Korean won reportedly sparked anger among North Koreans who feared they would never see their savings again.. Authorities ordered border guards to open fire on anyone who crossed the North Korean border without permission, an apparent attempt to thwart defections by people disgruntled over the currency reform. [Source: Jean H. Lee, Associated Press, December 31, 2009]

Blaine Harden wrote in the Washington Post: “Amid widespread protests, the limit was slightly raised to 150,000 won (about $60) in cash and 300,000 won ($120) in bank savings, according to DailyNK, an online news organization that has informants in the North. "I worked like a dog for two months for the winter, but the money became useless paper overnight," a resident of Sinuiju, a city that borders China, was quoted as saying on the web site of Good Friends, a Seoul-based aid organizations with informants in the North. [Source: Blaine Harden, Washington Post, December 2, 2009]

“The move shocked local markets in the North Korean capital, according to Yonhap, a news agency in Seoul. "Many citizens in Pyongyang were taken aback and in confusion," according to a person quoted by Yonhap. "Those who were worried about their hidden assets rushed to the black market to exchange them for yuan or U.S. dollars. The yuan and the dollar jumped." The report says security forces in North Korea have broad discretion to detain without trial nearly anyone who buys or sells in the local markets. But if traders can pay bribes, security officials will often leave them alone, the report says. Good Friends reported that security forces in the northeastern town city of Chongjin executed a citizen after he burned a large pile of old currency. He was apparently worried that police enforcing currency laws would investigate him to find out how he had gotten rich, the group said.

Barbara Demick wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “"People panicked. They had all their savings in cash because nobody trusts the banks. Many committed suicide," said Song Jung-su, a North Korean defector who is still in touch with relatives. Won Sei-hoon, head of South Korea's National Intelligence Servicesaid the move led to outbreaks of violence. "The move late last year led to riots in some places," the Seoul-based newspaper JoongAng Daily quoted Won as saying. "But the North Korean government appears to have them now under control." [Source: Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, February 3, 2010]

“Many expressed their anger by discarding the worthless currency. Some threw it into the wind from motorbikes, others made bonfires or tossed the money into the ocean, according to North Korea Today, a newsletter produced by a Seoul-based Buddhist charity with sources in the country. Arrests followed, the newsletter reported, and at least one man was executed -- not only because the law requires the old notes to be turned in, but because desecration of the image of the nation's late founder, Kim Il Sung, whose portrait was on the currency, is considered treason.

“In the days before the old won lost its value and foreign currency was banned, people shopped frantically, snapping up whatever they could find: electronics, rice cookers, shoes, cosmetics, clothing and, most of all, food, said a foreign resident of the capital, Pyongyang, who asked not to be identified. Authorities twice raised the limit on how much currency could be traded in, but they couldn't stop the hysteria. By the time the new won was distributed, almost all market shelves were bare. When a little food went back on sale, there was such pent-up demand that prices soared out of control. Police tried to impose limits on staples such as corn and rice, but minutes after authorities left the premises, prices would climb again.

In some cases, angry vendors and residents were reported to have attacked security agents who tried to close markets, Daily NK, a Seoul-based newsletter put out by defectors, said Tuesday. "I think they [North Korean authorities] miscalculated in their judgment," said Kim Hyuck, 27, a defector who is getting a degree in North Korean studies in Seoul. "They wanted to stop inflation, but they made things worse."

Why the Devaluation of the North Korean Currency Occurred

The currency reform appeared to be aimed at reasserting state control over the economy, reducing the power and wealth of rich traders, reducing inflation and reigning in corruption. Barbara Demick wrote in the Los Angeles Times: The idea behind the currency exchange, economists say, was to confiscate the cash of people who had become relatively rich selling on the private market and to restore the equality espoused by the communist system. "They wanted to make everybody the same," said Choi Kum Ok, a 54-year-old member of the Korean Workers' Party who left North Korea's Yanggang province in mid-December to work in China. Choi, who said she remains loyal to the regime, nonetheless acknowledged that the economic overhaul had backfired. "There is no food, and what there is has become unaffordable," Choi said. [Source: Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, March 25, 2010]

Blaine Harden wrote in the Washington Post: “In the view of several outside experts, the currency revaluation was a preemptive strike against the markets by Kim Jong Il, an aging leader who is worried about succession and trying to buy time. "This was one of the strongest measures he could take," said Cho Young-key, a professor of North Korea studies at Korea University in Seoul. "Kim is thinking that if he can't control the markets now, in the future it will get even harder, and then he will be handing power to the son."

“Stripping wealth from merchants is consistent with Kim Jong Il's long-held abhorrence of capitalist reform. His government regards it as "honey-coated poison" that can lead to regime change and catastrophe, according to the Rodong Sinmun, the party newspaper in Pyongyang. "It is important to decisively frustrate capitalist and non-socialist elements in their bud," said the newspaper.

“Private markets are flooding the country with electronics from China and elsewhere. Cheap radios, televisions, MP3 devices, DVD players, video cameras and cellphones are seeping into a semi-feudal society, where a trusted elite lives in the capital Pyongyang. Surrounding the elite is a suspect peasantry that is poor, stunted by hunger and spied upon by layers of state security. Affordable electronics are also cracking open the government's decades-old seal on incoming information. Imported radios -- and televisions in border areas -- are enabling a substantial proportion of the North Korean populations to tune in to Chinese and South Korean stations, as well as to Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, according to an unpublished survey of newly arrived defectors in South Korea. It found that two-thirds of them listened regularly to foreign broadcasts.

Pushback Against Kim Jong Il's Attempt to Limit Wealth

Blaine Harden wrote in the Washington Post: Grass-roots anger over the won devaluation “and a reported riot in an eastern coastal city pressured the government to amend its confiscatory policy. Exchange limits have been eased, allowing individuals to possess more cash. The currency episode reveals new constraints on Kim's power and may signal a fundamental change in the operation of what is often called the world's most repressive state. The change is driven by private markets that now feed and employ half the country's 23.5 million people, and appear to have grown too big and too important to be crushed, even by a leader who loathes them. [Source: Blaine Harden, Washington Post, December 27, 2009]

“The currency episode seems far from over, and there have been indications that Kim still has the stomach for using deadly force. There have been public executions and reinforcements have been dispatched to the Chinese border to stop possible mass defections, according to reports in Seoul-based newspapers and aid groups with informants in the North. Still, analysts say there has also been evidence of unexpected shifts in the limits of Kim's authority. "The private markets have created a new power elite," said Koh Yu-whan, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul. "They pay bribes to bureaucrats in Kim's government, and they are a threat that is not going away."

Kim's government in the past two years has closed some large markets, shifted Chinese-made goods to state-run shops and ordered that only middle-aged and older women can sell goods in open-air markets, to try to limit the number of North Koreans who abandon government jobs for the private sector. But capitalism seems to have already taken root. U.N. officials estimate that half the calories consumed in North Korea come from food bought in private markets, and that nearly 80 percent of household income derives from buying and selling in the markets, according to a study last year in the Seoul Journal of Economics.

North Korea Bans Foreign Currencies

About three weeks after the North Korean currency was revalued, North Korea banned the use of foreign currency. Jean H. Lee of Associated Press wrote: “Reports say the decree warns of severe punishment for anyone using U.S. dollars, euros, yuan and other non-North Korean currencies. Foreign currencies previously were accepted in some shops, restaurants and other outlets, particularly those catering to foreigners. The order, issued by North Korea's state security, went into effect on January 1, 2010, and aimed to "forbid the circulation of foreign currency," China's state-run CCTV television said. [Source: Jean H. Lee, Associated Press, December 31, 2009]

“The Daily NK, a Seoul-based online news outlet, said the order prohibits all individuals and organizations apart from banks from possessing foreign currency. It said the decree was posted in public and at workplaces. The order comes weeks after the government redenominated North Korea's currency, the won, as part of a far-reaching currency overhaul aimed at curbing runaway inflation and reasserting control over the economy.

“The restrictions come as impoverished North Korea faces tightened sanctions for its nuclear defiance that have curtailed its arms exports and other traditional sources of hard currency. The currency overhaul sought to rein in those who had profited from market commerce by ordering North Koreans to exchange a limited amount of the old bills for new ones, and to deposit their savings in banks.

“The latest currency decree gives businesses 24 hours to deposit all foreign currency in banks. "When it is needed for trade, it can be withdrawn after obtaining approval," it said, according to the Daily NK. The ban is aimed at seizing foreign money tucked away by those still engaging in private market commerce, analysts said. "North Korea has a problem with people trying to exchange their money for foreign currencies, and then storing the savings in their cabinets since they don't know how the value of the local currency might change, said Jeong Kwang-min, a research fellow at the state-run Institute for National Security Strategy in Seoul.

“The new ban shows the regime's intention to "firmly" resolve and bring the black market under control, Jeong said. "The ban is meant to root out people still trading at markets," said Yang Moo-jin of Seoul's University of North Korean Studies. "More broadly, it's aimed at smoothly completing the currency reform by restricting the use not only of local currency but also foreign currency." The latest ban also applies to foreigners, who must exchange foreign bills into North Korean won in order to purchase items, reports said.

North Korea Shuts Down Markets and Restricts Traders

Along with revaluation of the North Korean currency, North Korean authorities also closed large wholesale markets in Chongjin on the Chinese border and near Pyongyang and tried to reign in traders who brought in products from China. Barbara Demick wrote in the Los Angeles Times: Many of the markets have been closed, including the Tongil market, considered the best place to shop in Pyongyang. There are even plans to phase out the country's largest market, Sunam, in the city of Chongjin, a major trading hub for Chinese goods. "They feel like they need to get rid of the markets in order to rebuild socialism and create a great and glorious nation," said Cho Myong-chol, a former economics professor from Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung University who defected to South Korea in the 1990s. “The new dictates appear designed not only to put the entrepreneurs out of business but to confiscate any accumulated wealth. "We need to strengthen the principle and order of socialist economic management," Cho Song Hyun, an official with North Korea's central bank, said in December to a pro-regime newspaper in Japan. [Source: Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, February 3, 2010]

Blaine Harden wrote in the Washington Post: After a decade of explosive growth, markets have substantially supplanted the central government as a means of employing and distributing food to North Korea's 23.5 million people. The kudzu-like spread of grass-roots capitalism -- and the government's inability to control it -- has angered Kim and his top lieutenants. [Source: Blaine Harden, Washington Post, January 7, 2010]

“The central government held a teleconference in late December with officials in every province, city and county "to discuss how to supply consumer goods to residents in the aftermath of the currency exchange," according to Good Friends.” The ban on foreign currency not only affected private traders, who kept their savings in foreign currency and used it to import Chinese and South Korean goods for sale in North Korean markets. “Euros, dollars and Chinese yuan are also the preferred currency of the North Korean elite, who used them at state shops to buy luxury goods unavailable to most of the population. The survival of Kim's government, many analysts say, depends on catering to the needs of a few thousand elite officials in government and the military. [Source: Blaine Harden, Washington Post, January 7, 2010]

“To hobble traders who acquire goods from neighboring China, the government has imposed controls on travel and lodging in border areas, ordered the public not to use the large suitcases that are popular with traders and increased punishment for illegal border crossing.North Korea is "not moving toward a free-market economy, but will further strengthen the principle and order of social economic management," an official of the North Korean central bank recently told the Choson Sinbo, a Tokyo-based newspaper that is a mouthpiece for Kim's government. But reining in the markets is a formidable task, even for North Korean authorities, who preside over what is often described as the world's most repressive police state. United Nations officials estimate that half the calories consumed in North Korea now come from food bought in private markets. Recent surveys of defectors have found that as many as 75 percent of them were involved in market activities before fleeing the country.

North Korean Currency Changes Cause Hyperinflation, Food Shortages and Other Miseries

The revaluation of the North Korean currency sparked hyperinflation and food shortages. Blaine Harden wrote in the Washington Post: “Besides penalizing traders, an apparent goal of the currency revaluation was to slow inflation, which has plagued North Korea for years. But the government's action appears to have backfired, with potentially disastrous consequences in a country that is chronically short of food. The black-market value of "new" won has reportedly plummeted against Chinese currency, spooking private traders, who have pulled their goods out of markets. Outside economists say suspicion about the value of the won has made residents wary, increasing economic stagnation and worsening food shortages. [Source: Blaine Harden, Washington Post, January 7, 2010]

Barbara Demick wrote in the Los Angeles Times: The price of rice rose tenfold at private markets, and residents often had to wait in line for hours in subzero temperatures to buy food. Humanitarian aid workers have been unable to travel to large portions of the country because many hotels no longer accept foreign currency and the exchange rate bounces around wildly. "It's all really chaos. Everybody is confused," said a businessman. [Source: Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, February 3, 2010]

““The currency reform has had peculiar side effects. North Korea's treasury didn't print enough small-denomination notes, so shops have had to give out candy and gum as change. Uncertainty about the currency has all but stopped cross-border trade with China. A shortage of construction materials has caused delays in Pyongyang's showcase building projects. Even the elite, who once enjoyed a privileged lifestyle in the capital, have been affected. Most restaurants and stores in hotels, which serve foreigners and high-ranking officials, are closed, and the few still open have no fresh produce.

“Prices veer from the erratic to the absurd. One recent visitor told of friends who paid $41 for two cups of coffee and an ice cream. "You don't want to throw terms like hyperinflation around too lightly, but it is getting pretty ugly out there," said Marcus Noland, a North Korea specialist and deputy director of the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics. The shortages have been compounded by the regime's relentless crusade against private vendors. Until recently, people with enough money could procure a decent selection of food at the markets offering products from China, along with shoes, clothing, cosmetics and kitchenware. But authorities crippled the markets by limiting them to four hours a day and permitting only women older than 40 to operate the stalls. (Men and younger women are supposed to work for state-owned enterprises.)

From the perspective of the regime, Cho says, there is a method to the madness: By destroying the old money supply and printing a new one, the government essentially confiscated the wealth of the merchant class and redistributed it for its own political purposes. According to Cho, newly printed money will be directed toward a rebuilding campaign in Pyongyang to celebrate the 2012 centennial of Kim Il Sung's birth.

The central bank is also distributing new money to the politically loyal -- members of the ruling Workers' Party, the military, officers and employees of state-owned enterprises. Farmers are also supposed to get special stipends of 1,500 won. "In the short term, it will help them finance projects they think will sustain the regime," said Cho. "Of course, the policy will fail in the long term. North Korea can't produce enough food and consumer goods to distribute, so the people won't have any choice but to go back to the markets."

Defectors say that as soon as markets are closed, people find other places to trade, such as dark alleys not frequented by police. "It's always been that way. If you went to the main market and nobody was there, you knew the police had come through, so you went and found another market," said defector Kim. "They can close the markets, but they can't stop market activity."

A month and half later Demick wrote: “Food remains in such short supply that a single egg costs a full week's salary for many. Rice remains largely unavailable at state stores and can be purchased only illegally at about the equivalent of more than two weeks' salary. One North Korean woman interviewed said common laborers under the new system were making about 2,500 won per month, barely more than $1 at the new exchange rates prevailing on the black market. Cooking oil is a luxury, so unaffordable that people buy only a few grams at a time in small plastic bags. Markets are said to have less than one-third of the merchandise they stocked before the reform. [Source: Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, March 25, 2010]

Worries About Famine and Regime Collapse in North Korea After Currency Devaluation in 2009

The International Crisis Group said , as reported by The Guardian, “food prices soared as uncertainty over contradictory policies led to hoarding. By mid-January there were reports of rising deaths from starvation, thought to have prompted the release of emergency food supplies. The problems may have been exacerbated by the decision to pay those on state salaries the wage level in the new currency – in theory increasing their real incomes 100 times over. The government closed markets and banned both North Koreans and foreigners from using foreign currency — widely employed by the better-off to pay for goods smuggled in from China –– but later reversed the currency ruling and eased restrictions on trading. [Source: Tania Branigan, The Guardian, Agencies, March 18, 2010]

Three and half months after the North Korean currency revaluations, Barbara Demick wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “North Koreans who recently fled to China say many of their fellow citizens are losing faith in the regime of Kim Jong Il after a disastrous currency revaluation that wiped out savings and left food scarcer than at any time since the famine of the mid-1990s, when as many as 2 million people died. "People are outspoken. They complain," said a 56-year-old woman from the border city of Musan who gave her name as Li Mi Hee. Lowering her voice to a whisper, she said, "My son thinks that something might happen. I don't know what, but I can tell you this: People have opinions. . . . It is not like the 1990s when people just died without saying what they thought." [Source: Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, March 25, 2010]

"The whole economic structure has collapsed because of the currency reform," said James Kim, a Korean American educator and president of the Yanbian University of Science and Technology in Yanji, China, who is in the process of setting up a similar school in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. "It is a very difficult situation for them. . . . It might end up being worse than the 1990s."

The economic disarray comes at a delicate time for North Korea as the 68-year-old Kim Jong Il, reportedly suffering the effects of a stroke, tries to hand the reins of power to his youngest son, Kim Jong Un. In the last few months, officials of the ruling Korean Workers' Party have been quietly told that the younger Kim is the designated successor. "If his father is doing such a bad job, what can we expect of his son?" Li said.

“Party officials have also issued rare public apologies over the mishandling of the currency, North Koreans say. "They apologized, but it didn't do us any good. People already had lost all their money," said Song Hee, a 17-year-old from Musan. She said party officials in Musan went door to door, speaking to neighborhood leaders of the inminban, or "people's committee," about the economic mistakes. The teenager fled last month after the revaluation wiped out the cash her parents had been saving in hopes of sending her to college. "My friends would leave too if they could. They see no future in North Korea," Song Hee said nervously, her bangs slick with sweat across her forehead. Before the revaluation, Song Hee said, her mother had been making a modest living selling cheap socks, keeping the family reasonably well fed.

“The economic misstep comes on the heels of a disappointing 2009 harvest and before one this year that is also shaping up to be lean because of declining donations of fertilizer and seeds from South Korea. The scarcity is spreading to the more privileged in North Korea. An aid worker who visits regularly said that this month, officials begged him to bring in food the next time. "I usually bring a bottle of Scotch as a gift -- they really enjoy it -- but this time they said, 'Why didn't you bring in rice instead?' " said the aid worker, who asked not to be identified.

Even the relatively privileged capital has been affected. "We live in one of the richer parts of the country. Things were OK for us around 2004, but now they've gotten bad again, maybe worse than before. . . . People are starving to death," said Su Jong, 28, who is from Pyongsong. The city, on the northern outskirts of Pyongyang, is home to many of North Korea's top science institutes and to the largest wholesale market. Although Su Jong held North Korea's economic policies at fault, she said she had not lost her love for Kim Jong Il. "If [Kim] was a good leader, we wouldn't see children starving, people wandering the streets in rags, the markets with no food," she said. "But I don't doubt his good intentions. It is the people under him who are corrupt."

North Korean Finance Chief Held Responsible for Currency Devaluation Shot by a Firing Squad

In March 2010, 77-year-old Pak Nam Ki, chief of planning and finance for the Korean Workers' Party, and said to be the architect of the currency revaluation, was shot by a firing squad in Pyongyang after being charged with "deliberately ruining the national economy." The move was largely seen as a to deflect public anger against the regime and many saw Park as a scapegoat. [Source: Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, March 25, 2010]

Tania Branigan wrote in The Guardian: Pak Nam-gi was killed by firing squad last week, said Yonhap, citing multiple sources. The Workers party chief for planning and the economy had not been seen in public since January. The 77-year-old was put to death as "a son of a bourgeois conspiring to infiltrate the ranks of revolutionaries to destroy the national economy", the agency said. But it reported that many North Koreans did not believe the explanation, citing one source who said: "The mood is the leadership has made Pak Nam-gi a scapegoat." “November's abrupt redenomination of the won led to public discontent and was having a negative impact on plans for the succession, another source said. [Source: Tania Branigan, The Guardian, Agencies, March 18, 2010]

“The International Crisis Group (ICG) described the currency revaluation as "disastrous".Daniel Pinkston, north-east Asia deputy project director for ICG, said Pak's execution was unlikely to be reported domestically but could possibly cause dissension with the party. "Will people start thinking 'I could be next' or will they say 'He really screwed up and got what he deserved'?"

The Daily NK, a Seoul-based website run by democracy and human rights activists, said Pak had allegedly submitted a report saying redenomination would improve people's lives and secure the country's finances. Pak was last mentioned by the north's official Korean Central News Agency in January when he accompanied Kim on an inspection trip. He was allegedly denounced as a traitor at a party meeting in the same month and arrested on the spot.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons.

Text Sources: UNESCO, Wikipedia, Library of Congress, CIA World Factbook, World Bank, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, “Culture and Customs of Korea” by Donald N. Clark, Chunghee Sarah Soh in “Countries and Their Cultures”, “Columbia Encyclopedia”, Korea Times, Korea Herald, The Hankyoreh, JoongAng Daily, Radio Free Asia, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, Daily NK, NK News, BBC, AFP, The Atlantic, Yomiuri Shimbun, The Guardian and various books and other publications.

Updated in July 2021

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