Understanding Kim Jong Un’s Economic Policymaking


North Korea’s academic journals provide key insights into how the country is thinking about its own trajectory—what ideas are being explored, tested and supported. In some cases, they can also reflect a sort of ongoing debate within the country, among the technocrats and academics, about the pros and cons of various policies. However, these journals are published only in Korean language and can be difficult to access outside of the country.

This volume is a compilation of articles researched and written by 38 North Senior Fellow Rachel Minyoung Lee and Nonresident Fellow Robert L. Carlin and published on the 38 North website. Based on North Korea’s two premier economic journals—Kyo’ngje Yo’ngu and the Journal of Kim Il Sung University, also known as Hakpo—from 2012 to 2020, Lee and Carlin examine how Pyongyang’s economic policy decisions were made and rolled out under Kim Jong Un.

The translated articles used to inform this research are also archived on 38 North’s DPRK Economic Journals for reference.

This research was made possible through generous support from the Henry Luce Foundation and Korea Foundation.

Download the full compilation here.

The series is available on www.38north.org, and individual pieces are linked below:

The translated materials referenced are linked below:

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