장마당 운영

Permission to Survive

In North Korea, the regime permits limited trading with China, although it comes with many rules. Despite these restrictions, people have found ways to carry on business in unofficial markets, known as grey markets.

In fact, these grey markets have grown so much that they are now a regular shopping spot for nearly everyone in the country, where they barter - or trade - all sorts of things like food, goods, and services. These markets can be found all over North Korea, with a variety of sellers, both legal and not-so-legal.

The legal sellers have stalls in covered areas with concrete floors and metal roofs. They must wear special badges that show they are allowed to sell there. However, surrounding these official setups, you can find illegal sellers laying out their items on tarps on the ground. On your way to the market, you might even pass small carts selling refreshments, snacks, and cigarettes.

These markets, called the Jangmadang, have been around since the 1990s. The North Korean regime’s stance on them has shifted over time, sometimes allowing them more freedom and other times adding more rules. Around the end of 2005, the regime decided to tighten control over these markets, setting rules on who could sell there, what they could sell, and when the markets could be open. They even started cracking down on "grasshopper traders," people who moved around to sell their goods.