With the devastating starvation the North Korean people have suffered the government may have finally realized that categorical command-and-control economic planning has been a massive failure. With this realization, the North Korean government has apparently opened its markets in hopes doing so will curb its food crisis and prevent North Korean citizens from starving.
From the Washington Post:
SEOUL — Bowing to reality, the North Korean government has lifted all restrictions on private markets — a last-resort option for a leadership desperate to prevent its people from starving.
In recent weeks, according to North Korea observers and defector groups with sources in the country, Kim Jong Il’s government admitted its inability to solve the current food shortage and encouraged its people to rely on private markets for the purchase of goods. Though the policy reversal will not alter daily patterns — North Koreans have depended on such markets for more than 15 years — the latest order from Pyongyang abandons a key pillar of a central, planned economy.