Park Sung-jo, an economics professor at the Free University of Berlin, said in an interview with Radio Free Asia on April 8 that “North Korean elites such as high ranking officials of the Communist Party, armed forces and state-run companies live in luxury apartments on Changcheon street and enjoy lives unimaginable to ordinary North Koreans.”
According to professor Park, members of the wealthy elite possess at least US$50,000 in cash, and televisions made by Samsung Electronics. Some keep pets smuggled from China, and visit expensive restaurants, saunas and sports complexes.
The professor added, “I can say there are at least 200,000 to 300,000 elites who can enjoy and purchase the luxurious products. Some other experts say the number could be as high as one million.”
Park also insisted that there are around 5,000 high-end automobiles from Mercedes-Benz and BMW. In addition, around 1,500 taxis operate in Pyongyang, and some streets even suffer from traffic jams.
“There was income disparity in East Germany, but it cannot be compared with that of North Korea. As smartphones are becoming more popular in North Korea, ordinary people are discovering the increasing economic polarization resulting from Kim Jung-un’s rule.”
By John Choi (firstname.lastname@example.org)