The New York Times wrote glowing articles about the worker's paradise in the Soviet Union in the twenties and thirties. The Times could be pulling the same stunt with regards to North Korea.But the problem with this take is that the NYT coverage is reporting, this time, on how the North Korean standard of living is improving not because NK is a "worker's paradise" but precisely because it is moving in the direction of free markets.
Further, a number of other reports suggest that there is some improvement for some in lifestyles in North Korea. Dennis Rodman has spoken of the changes over time that he has seen during his visits to NK (SEE: Dennis Rodman on Kim Jong Un).
Most fascinating are the reports
of Jeremy Koh, Beijing correspondent for Channel News Asia. He has made several trips into NK and readily admits that he is always accompanied by a minder, who does not allow him to travel freely, but still his reporting does appear to show that some who are living in NK's capital city, Pyongyang, appear to be living at least a lower middle-class lifestyle. I don't imagine all of North Korea is like this but it does suggest an improvement in living standards that Rodman spoke of in his interview and that NYT indicates.
Families having picnics in #Pyongyang's zoo; more stories on #Dprk coming up soon pic.twitter.com/gnXc8cuQ7y— Jeremy Koh (@JeremyKohCNA) April 20, 2017
Volleyball seems pretty popular in #Pyongyang; saw people playing it across the city #DPRK pic.twitter.com/8aCDKozxQu— Jeremy Koh (@JeremyKohCNA) April 19, 2017
That's my minder in #Pyongyang (middle) from the Foreign Ministry. He knows a lot abt outside world, even abt Sentosa in Singapore #Dprk pic.twitter.com/qcGOVAwKIs— Jeremy Koh (@JeremyKohCNA) April 19, 2017
As @JeremyKohCNA noted, Pyongyang's hair salons seem funny -- there's always exactly one customer in each room pic.twitter.com/JZuQfzqjdz— Jonathan Kaiman (@JRKaiman) April 16, 2017
The water park in #Pyongyang #DPRK where foreign reporters were brought to this morning pic.twitter.com/Ta41HykZux— Jeremy Koh (@JeremyKohCNA) April 16, 2017
Bus loads of tourists just arriving in #Pyongyang as I send this tweet #DPRK pic.twitter.com/1I538GYogQ— Jeremy Koh (@JeremyKohCNA) April 14, 2017
There's been a construction boom (somewhat) in Pyongyang in recent years; my minder says to expect more projects next year #DPRK pic.twitter.com/X59XGIHS46— Jeremy Koh (@JeremyKohCNA) April 14, 2017
Peak hour in #Pyongyang; need to rush back to hotel to make it for @primetimeasia #DPRK pic.twitter.com/sUEkAML02s— Jeremy Koh (@JeremyKohCNA) April 13, 2017