Conditions appear to be deteriorating in perhaps the worst place on earth:
The capacity of private markets to supply food in the North has also taken a major hit because of a government-ordered currency revaluation in December. It disrupted market trading, while driving up the price of rice and nearly every other commodity. It also infuriated many North Koreans who saw the value of their cash savings plummet — and reportedly triggered some riots.
Two people a day have been dying of hunger in South Hamgyong province, according to a report by Good Friends, a Seoul-based aid and human rights group with informants inside the country. It also said that North Korean army commanders met with government officials Jan. 20 to discuss how to obtain more food for troops. [...]
The head of “Room 39,” the government bureaucracy that focuses on making money for the Kim family, has also been fired, according to Yonhap, citing an unidentified source. It said that Kim Dong Un, head of the department that controls operations ranging from insurance fraud to legitimate trading operations, had been replaced by his deputy.
There’s also of course the question of what the world’s going to do when the DPRK collapses. People often use the famous light map showing the difference between North and South Korea to illustrate the importance of institutions.
Nevertheless, I think the experience of East Germany tells us that you’re not going to be able to just hook North Korea up to the better institutions of the South and have everything turn out fine effortlessly. There are going to be huge problems and the world doesn’t seem to be doing much to prepare.