North Korea's 2009 currency reform in the context of national narrative

Andray Abrahamian*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


North Korea has a powerful national narrative which is based on struggle against external forces. Since the mid-nineties, this has been centered on sacrifice for the sake of military strength. Recently, however, this narrative arc has been shifted: Now the people are to be rewarded by the central government for years of sacrifice with improvement to quality of life. The 2009 currency reform, rather than simply a failure, was an integral part of the strategy to deliver this improvement by 2012. China's continued support for Pyongyang's plans to develop infrastructure and expand trade, combined with the national narrative, gives this development plan a reasonable chance to succeed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-77
Number of pages14
JournalNorth Korean Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • China
  • currency reform
  • military first (Songun)
  • national narrative
  • North Korea
  • self-reliance (Juche)


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