04 March 2010

North Korea

1) DailyNK has an interesting breakdown of what went so wrong with the attempt by North Korea to do away with all the black markets, and why it was impossible during that time to get food from the government markets. There are a lot of parts to it, but in general there was no incentive for farmers to sell (as the government price was 1/10th the black market price), no incentive for the government markets to buy and resell (and the buying price was twice the selling price), and no ability to smuggle it in from China (as foreign currency was banned). It's like a trifecta of dumb.

2) North Korea is also apparently making widespread use of DDT and PCBs, the way that Americans did prior to the 60s. I do not know much about PCBs, but I know that DDT is generally restricted to killing mosquitoes that carry malaria. The UN report about this says that the North Koreans are gravely endangering their own health and that of their neighbors with these chemicals.
Both of these news stories have one thing in common. They both show an utter lack of knowledge about modern science (economics and chemistry) that the rest of the world possesses. North Korean isolation is killing them, and they appear to prefer it that way.

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