1st Edition

North Korea's Women-led Grassroots Capitalism

By Bronwen Dalton, Kyungja Jung Copyright 2024
    222 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    North Korea is in the throes of economic and social, if not political, transition. These changes have a pronounced gender dimension: the crisis of the command economy and the gradual emergence of an informal market economy, where, remarkably, the vast majority of North Korea’s traders and merchants are women. This book examines the complex relationship between gender roles and economic and social changes in North Korea. The book, based on extensive original research, provides rich details of this development, considers how women’s roles in North Korea have developed over time and highlights how women are driving change in other areas of North Korean life too, including family relationships, women’s sexuality and reproductive issues and women’s cultural identity.

    List of Figures

    Preface and Acknowledgements


    Introduction: Women’s agency and everyday resistance in transitional North Korea


    1.     Rhetoric versus Reality: Women, law and policy

    2.     The Auntie Economy: Women-led grassroots capitalism

    3.     Destabilising Patriarchy: Relaxed gender roles in family relations

    4.     ‘Dressing well and looking pretty’: Social construction of femininity in the jangmadang economy

    5.     Covert resistance: Women’s health and reproduction

    6.     Sexual revolution: Intimacy, love and marriage in transition

    7.     Nouveau riche or nouveau rouge: Leadership and the modern North Korean woman

    8.     The Question of Regime Stability: Women, marketisation and the challenge of change


    Conclusion: Women getting away with it




    Kyungja Jung is Associate Professor in Social and Political Change at the University of Technology, Sydney.

    Bronwen Dalton is Professor of Management at the University of Technology, Sydney.