North Korea’s Economic Failure

The death of Kim Jong Il invites comparisons between North and South Korea. Donald Marron, a professor of economics and writer for Seeking Alpha (, posted the following graphic yesterday  comparing the per-capita GDP of the two economies since the 1970’s.

Source: Donald Marron - Seeking Alpha

The difference in growth rates is dramatic. Although we cannot visit North Korea, a comparison of Google Earth images of Pyongyang and Seoul is revealing. In some respects the two cities, like most cities, look similar. Yet looking closely we can readily see a major difference. In Pyongyang there are almost no cars.

Seoul - source: Google Earth
Pyongyang - source: Google Earth

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