World's Loneliest ATM North Korea

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 5/01/2017 01:06:00 PM
"Those are just props, right?" The ATM at North Korea's brand-new "international airport".
A recent New York Times article claims that, actually, North Korea is experimenting with economic liberalization on a controlled basis. That is, small markets featuring wares made by local traders are popping up all over the country. What's more, it claims that the totalitarian dominance of the Kim regime is lessened as more of these merchants pop up and become more affluent.

Unless you're a communist diehard, you'd probably agree that something that could really spur this nascent turn towards entrepreneurship is international economic integration. Unfortunately, however, that appears to be something that is well beyond what is allowable by the Kim regime. What evidence do we have to back up this statement? Consider the world's loneliest ATM North Korea's airport. Apparently, these devices were not meant for local consumption but by Chinese tourists. With North Korea in China's doghouse at the moment for nuclear tests and (comically failed) missile launches, these ATMs do not look to become operational anytime soon. From the Associated Press:
ATMs are an alien enough concept in North Korea that those in the capital's shiny new Sunan International Airport have a video screen near the top showing how they work and how to set up an account to use them. The explanatory video is in Korean, but the machines, which are meant primarily for Chinese businesspeople and tourists, don't give out cash in the North Korean currency. ATMs are not entirely new to the North.

Years ago, the Ryugyong Commercial Bank installed one in a midrange tourist hotel in central Pyongyang frequented by Chinese. Another ATM was spotted at the airport last year, but it never appeared to be turned on. Additionally, customers who flash the bank's gold or silver ATM cards at two upscale stores that sell a wide array of imported foods and luxury items qualify for discounts. How much North Korea's ATMs have actually been used is a matter of debate.

Booking office employees said the ATMs at the airport's international terminal were installed a few months ago but are still in a "test phase." According to tellers at the bank's small office in the hotel where it has its other ATM, none of the machines are working because of Chinese sanctions that they said kicked in last month.
So North Korea is experimenting with accoutrements of the running dogs of capitalism...but ATMs are still too much of a step into the unknown at this point in time.