Let's test two of the great theories as to why North Korea is in poverty:
1. North Korea has really only suffered since the end of the Cold War saw it lose markets and cheap oil.
2. North Korea has also really only suffered due to the introduction of UN sanctions on trade with the country due to its nuclear programme.
Nonsense. The effect of the end of the Cold War was to make things worse, but the relative decline is inbuilt in the system of rigid state socialism.
Look at this, from the Washington Post:
|Source: Washington Post|
Stagnation has been the norm in North Korea for 40 years. The gap between rich and poor has been a gap between South Korea and North Korea. From 1972 to 1987 South Korea was under the rule of a military led dictatorship and subsequently transitioned to a vibrant and very open liberal democracy. However, South Korea's dictatorship allowed far more economic and personal freedom than North Korea. Today the average South Korean has 20 times the income of the average North Korean, with freedoms and a way of life as distant from North Koreans as New Zealand does to Haiti.
As the Washington Post notes. East Germany had one-third of the per capita income of West Germany at the time of reunification. North Korea has one-twentieth.
By contrast, South Korea is a pinup example of roaring success in economic development. From 1953 when after the Korean War it had per capita income akin to that of Bangladesh, it is today effectively a developed country.
Do we really need any more case studies of capitalism vs. socialism?