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Ricepocalypse Now

November 6th, 2013 - 4:23 pm

Korea:

More signs of desperation (or economic reality) up north. Party officials have been sent around to visit known entrepreneurs (visibly rich people who do not work for the government) and asking them to donate rice to the government. Now you would think the North Korean government would just send troops around to seize private rice stocks. But the northern leadership has come to realize that the new entrepreneur class are not seeking to overthrow the government and are willing to support the current rulers. So the entrepreneurs are being offered “letters of appreciation” for rice donations. These letters can later be used as “get out of jail” cards if the entrepreneur gets into trouble with one government official or another. This is a fact of life and cost of doing business for the entrepreneurs and they can understand the deal they are being offered. But the fact that the government is coming to them for basic items like rice indicates that the food situation must be even worse than most people think. The reason so many entrepreneurs have their own stockpiles of rice is because the price of rice keeps going up on the free markets and “investing” in rice is a good way to make idle cash productive. Rice would also be a useful “currency” if there were ever a major political crises.

I’m not even sure how to quantify all the wrong/stupid/evil in that single paragraph. Not much has changed since 2003, except for the increased desperation.

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All Comments   (6)
All Comments   (6)
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Well, it's not "Advance directly to Go, collect $200", but a "Get out of jail Free" card is nice in a tyrannical State. That will motivate you to make a bit more money.

"Honey, while you're out and about, today, could you remember to pick up a couple 'Get out of Jail free' cards? I have an inspection at the shop, tomorrow.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Rice is good. Rice plus government control of markets is a nightmare.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
If I remember correctly, a few years ago the North Korean government (when faced with the FACT that people were stockpiling cash in whatever hiding places they could find to keep it from the government) COMPLETELY CHANGED THE CURRENCY, then made it illegal to hold any of the old currency. The kicker was that you could only exchange a specified low amount of the old stuff for their "new and improved" stuff and no more. (Guess that'll teach them peons to be thrifty). Guess you can't print new rice to replace the old rice!
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
According to the article, rice is already a useful currency.

Actually, it has been for the last thousand years.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Give it a year, we will be trading sacks of rice for permission from the gov't to go to the hospital.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wow, it used to be that you had to build a cathedral or endow a monestary to get a plenary indulgence. Now you just have to fork over a couple of sacks of rice. Deflation is a killer.

On a serious note, the ability to feed its army has been a prime factor in the stability of the Kim dynasty. If that's breaking down, life on the peninsula is going to get interesting. Starving people are unpredictable. Starving people with nuclear weapons are downright frightening.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
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