A triple whammy

Last week, Andray wrote an opinion piece in Reuters that outlined why the stock market crash in China was the latest in a string of strains on North Korea's economy.

The first was the DPRK's ebola policy, which for nearly five months acted as an effective travel ban. This had clear effects on trade and tourism, as well as counteracted efforts by some agencies to improve perceptions of North Korea as an increasingly hospitable tourism and investment destination.

As we detail in our 2014 annual report, this was a costly policy for us, forcing delays and a loss of funds as donors decided to look to locations where programs could be implemented. 

It ended in early March, but by then the effects of drought were beginning to be visible. Low snowmelt meant less hydroelectricity. Meanwhile, rice-planting season in May and early June is a time when office workers are normally mobilized down to the farms to help with the work. This year it appeared as if people had to spend more time doing farm work, taking up valuable time. (This also impacted a workshop we held in Rason.)

Now that summer has arrived, the Chinese stock market's collapse(s)  are harming the North Korean economy in two ways. First, it is destroying wealth in large part among small and medium investors, the same demographic that is most likely to consider doing business in the DPRK. Second, it's accelerating the decline in commodities prices, lowering the prices that Korea can fetch for its key exports to China.

Overall, this is a continuing to be a difficult year for the North Korean economy.