Marketplaces in North Korea have expanded over the span of more than 10 years despite the North's crackdown on them in 2010, a report showed Tuesday, indicating markets' critical role in the North's economy.
An analysis of satellite imagery showed that most markets in North Korea have "either grown or remained virtually unchanged" in recent years despite the North Korean regime's crackdown on them, according to the report by Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein, a non-resident Kelly Fellow at the Pacific Forum CSIS.
"This is yet another indication among many that the markets are a crucial part of the North Korean economy, and the fact that they have grown in many cities would seem to imply that their importance is growing," the report said.
The report, titled "Growth and Geography of Markets in North Korea," was written based on satellite imagery to delve into how North Korea's markets have changed in size over time.
In the western border city of Sinuiju, the total market space in the city grew by 114 percent between 2003 and 2014, the report said. The North's border city of Kaesong saw aggregate market size grow by around 16 percent in the cited period.
Pyongsong, about 30 kilometers north of Pyongyang, was an exception as the closure of the wholesale market in 2010 decreased the city's market size by 70 percent.
The report said that satellite imagery cannot capture whether markets are actually operating, but relevant datasets showed "policies of market repression have not translated into permanent closures and removals of markets."
It also said aggregate market space per capital is larger in North Korea's southern areas than in the northern parts, indicating that domestic agriculture may also be a major driver of the market economy.
The existence of large markets per capita in the western port cities, such as Nampo and Haeju, may be related to trade via sea routes, it said. (Yonhap)