Reluctantly, the North Korean government has allowed the establishment of informal markets, with ordinary people setting up stalls to sell food, clothes or cheap consumer goods.
But in the murky economy where nearly any major business deal requires under-the-table payments, most analysts believe it is the same songbun elite that profits in the business world. They are part of an informal club that gives them access to powerful contacts. If they need help finalizing a black-market business deal, they have people to call.
“Who gets the bribes?” asked Bob Collins, who wrote an exhaustive songbun study released recently by Washington’s Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, who believes the caste system remains deeply entrenched. “It’s the guys at the upper levels of songbun,” a mysterious caste system has shadowed the life of every North Korean.markets, north korea, songbun
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