Friday, August 20, 2010

Marketization Getting Back on the Road

New video of bustling and uninterrupted trading in a border market has been obtained by a South Korean daily newspaper, suggesting that the fight against market activity has been won, for the time being at least, by market traders and the forces of capitalism.

As the piece in the Chosun Ilbo points out, the new video, taken this month in Shinuiju, stands in stark contrast to another video obtained by the same paper in April. In the previous video, empty stalls and limited numbers of customers were the most obvious features of a market in Onsung.

Markets in the country were practically deserted until May, but the situation began to change in June. Now business is booming. Sources say the authorities have virtually stopped trying to control the markets.

South Korean products are also freely available in the market, the paper’s sources add. They are not advertised, but everyone knows how to get them and many are prepared to pay a premium for a desirable item.

Cuckoo rice cookers, Samsung Anycall mobile phones and LG TV sets are very popular.

We display Chinese cosmetics but tell customers we also have South Korean ones. When a customer wants South Korean cosmetics, we take them out from under the table and sell them in the backroom.

Which is exactly what I want to hear. It shows that the currency redenomination has had no effect, and while the long term effects of one bustling market in Shinuiju are hard to predict, it is certainly a good sign of a lack of state control over the economic sphere.

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