From patriarchal socialism to grassroots capitalism: The role of female entrepreneurs in the transition of North Korea

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Women's Studies International Forum, 2018, 68 pp. 19 - 27
Issue Date:
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© 2018 Elsevier Ltd Since the collapse of North Korea's command economy in the 1990s, a large number of women have become entrepreneurs. This remarkable feature of North Korean marketisation cannot be adequately explained by female entrepreneur (FE) deficit premises, which highlight women's supposed shortcomings in what is considered a male enterprise. Based on in-depth interviews with female North Korean defectors, and viewing entrepreneurship as a catalyst for socio-cultural change, this paper questions how FEs emerged in North Korea and whether women's market participation influences gender relations, or attitudes toward the North Korean regime. There have been noticeable changes in gender roles, son preference and choice of marriage partners. Our findings suggest that female entrepreneurship has the potential to both challenge and support the North Korean system. This research significantly advances scholarship on gender and entrepreneurship by adopting a constructionist approach to gender and transcending the prevalence of descriptive analysis of gendered entrepreneurial practices.
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