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But it is hard to see how it can achieve its pledge to become “a great, powerful and prosperous nation” by then – even given the Stakhanovite industrial efforts lauded in its newspapers. Pyongyang is lucky: no one is plump, but nor is there noticeable emaciation.Dr Andrei Lankov, associate professor at Kookmin University in Seoul, says the official income in Pyongyang is around 3,000 won a month, but many have ways of making money on the side and – unlike other North Koreans – its residents receive subsistence food rations.

If we don’t make money, they starve, so life is hard for women.” … Kim gets up at each morning to feed the animals she sells, and also brews alcohol illegally.

Every minute of the day is spent figuring out how to feed her family, including an adult son and daughter whose state-run jobs do not provide enough to live on.

Anecdotally, the women hint that they often are the ones to decide whether their husband’s skills are actually worth paying such sums of money. “I don’t know if you can call it power, but women do what men can’t do, so we can speak louder now,” she says. The men are then sent to a job in a state-run work unit, which — strapped for cash — doesn’t necessarily pay wages any more. The extra burden women carry is beginning to have social consequences, with young women hoping to delay marriage to avoid taking on a husband. “A sufficient engagement,” it proclaimed, “has two people and their parents meeting to confirm the marriage, and wedding ceremonies should be a gathering at someone’s home.” Regarding funeral arrangements and ancestral rites, it recommended, “Commemorate a death by placing a medal or honorary certificate before an image of the deceased along with flowers, while the various commemorative services on the 3rd day or the birthday of the deceased should be eliminated.” Getting into minutae, it added of a groom’s suit color, “Discard the convention of wearing a black or dark blue suit; men should wear bright colors according to season.” In these ways, the article asserted, kwanhonsangjae becomes an aesthetic and modern set of customs with a uniquely Chosun ethnic color.

For men, their emasculation within their own households is now a fact of life. The piece appears to show both the state’s desire to restrain consumption but also to reassert ‘socialist’ attitudes and encourage nationalist attitudes, thus pushing back against the impact of foreign ideas coming in via overseas media, South Korean dramas and so on.

And an increasing number of women are choosing younger men so that they can have more control in the relationship.” One female North Korean defector in her 30s said, “Even if the authorities tell people not to, men are living with women who are five or six years older, because these women have experience making ends meet.” The number of divorces initiated by women is on the rise as well.

The regime is threatening to expel divorcees, but to no avail.

“North Koreans don’t take warnings from the regime seriously because they believe that there is no need to report marriage or divorce to the government,” Park said.

“Recently an increasing number of people don’t bother to register their partnership and just go their separate ways after a few months or years if they want.” A recent story in the Donga-Ilbo asserts that prostitution and other forms of “adult business” are on the rise in the DPRK.

“Whatever your wife tells you to do, you do,” says Mr. ‘Socialist Cultural Life’ is distributed monthly to all official organs and enterprises.

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