N. Korea Allows Private Food Markets
Pro-capitalist policy shift comes amid growing famine
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2010 12:10 PM CDT
In this undated photo released by the Korean Central News Agency, Kim Jong Il smiles as he visits Taedonggang Combined Fruit Farm in Pyongyang, North Korea.   (AP Photo/Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service)

(Newser) – North Korea has effectively admitted that it can't feed its citizens by allowing people to buy food and other necessities at private markets, the Washington Post reports. Such markets have existed under the radar for years, but the government order sanctioning what amounts to capitalism "abandons all pretense of a central, planned economy," writes Chico Harlan.

"The North Korean government has tried all possible ways and failed, and it now has to resort to the last option," a South Korean professor tells the Post. "There's been lots of back and forth in what the government has been willing to tolerate, and I cannot rule out the possibility of them trying to bring back restrictions on the markets. But it is hard for the government to reverse it now."