For North Korea, a Sea Change or Zigzag?

Aware of his nation's dire troubles, Kim Jong Il is pragmatically -- but slowly -- cracking open the door to the world and a market economy

He may be the world's most reclusive leader. But North Korea's Kim Jong Il is making moves these days that are raising his profile among Korea-watchers -- from Seoul to Tokyo to Washington. For the first time in decades, North Korea recently took steps to bring prices and wages in its centrally planned economy closer to market levels. The government hiked state-controlled prices on food, energy, and other goods by as much as 550-fold, while wages soared by 30 times.

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