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North Korea Economy: Private Markets Target of Corruption, Human Rights Abuses

North Korea’s state-run rationing system collapsed in the mid-1990s amid a devastating famine and economic crisis

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North Korea, Economy, Private Markets
UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea, Tomas Ojea Quintana gestures as he attends a press conference, June 7, 2018 in Geneva. VOA

North Koreans eking out a living in the country’s thriving, informal private markets are regularly subjected to corruption and various forms of human rights abuses, according to a new United Nations report.

North Korea’s state-run rationing system collapsed in the mid-1990s amid a devastating famine and economic crisis, leading to the creation of unofficial commercial markets in the socialist regime.

North Korea, Economy, Private Markets
Informal private markets are regularly subjected to corruption and various forms of human rights abuses, according to a new United Nations report. Pixabay

The report by the U.N.’s Office of Human Rights says the failure to legitimize these markets has exposed ordinary North Koreans to potential arrest, prosecution and detention. Corrupt, low-paid officials use the threat of arrest to extort bribes from people with the ability and willingness to pay.

The U.N. report was based on interviews from 214 North Koreans who have defected from the regime and resettled in South Korea.

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The report blames the situation on the priority the regime places on supporting its military and developing its nuclear weapons program over adequately providing for its people. (VOA)

Next Story

Use of Robots in the US Increases Tremendously

Here are the States Where Robots Rule

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Robots
Robots have replaced many human resources in USA and this has affected the economy as well. (Representational Image). Pixabay

By Dora Mekouar

The use of robots in the U.S. workplace more than doubled from 2009 to 2017, the bulk of them in manufacturing. But the extent of manufacturing job losses in the Midwest was masked by the economic boom of the past 10 years.

“A growing economy independent of technology, independent of robotics, has been able to absorb, at least at the national level … people who may have gotten displaced,” said William M. Rodgers III, professor of public policy and chief economist at the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.

Rodgers co-authored a report on how robots are affecting workers and their wages.

Industrial Production robots
An assembly line laborer works alongside collaborative robots, left, on a chainsaw production line at the Stihl Inc. production plant in Virginia Beach. VOA

While robots haven’t had a nationwide impact on the employment rate, some states in the Midwest have twice as many robots as all other regions and  are suffering as a result of the rise of robotization.

Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin have the highest concentration of robots, primarily in manufacturing.

These industrial robots tend to perform repetitive tasks, such as assembly and packaging, or sealing, welding and painting, at a very fast rate.

The workers most affected by the machine takeover are young, less-educated people, with black men and women experiencing the greatest job losses. Those who find new jobs in different industries often have to settle for lower pay.

“If the displacement is large enough, if they get pushed into retail or they get pushed into hospitality and leisure, the supply of them in that industry or that sector increases,” Rodgers said. “And if demand for workers is not growing fast enough, you begin to see a decline in wages.”

The regions with the most robots overall include: 

Ford F Series Recall robots
Robots weld the cab of a 2018 Ford F-150 truck on the assembly line at the Ford Rouge assembly plant in Dearborn, Mich. Ford is recalling 327,000 F-Series pickup trucks in North America. VOA

1. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, California  

2. Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, Illinois

3. Houston-Baytown-Sugar Land, Texas

4. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Arizona 

5. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Michigan 

6. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wisconsin 

7. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pennsylvania/New Jersey/Delaware/Maryland 

8. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California 

9. Indianapolis, Indiana 

10. Cleveland-Elyria, Ohio

The good news is that these displaced workers could ultimately end up in higher-paid positions, if the right safety nets are put into place.

“Approaches that can help cushion the blow for people who do get displaced by technology,” Rodgers says, “and then also to have education and training programs that allow individuals who do lose their jobs to be able to transition to other occupations.”

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Rodgers says now is the time to prepare for the rise of the robots.

“What better time to be able to help people who are getting bullied, so to speak, by technology or getting bullied, so to speak, by globalization?” Rodgers says. “Times of prosperity is the best time… to invest in all Americans.” (VOA)