This paper examines the anti-corruption movement initiated by Kim Jong Un, focusing on the increased rent-seeking competition between the elite and the middle class as market mechanisms have developed in North Korea. I examine two hypotheses regarding this program. First, it is focused on constraining the influence gained by the elite through power–money collusion to maintain regime stability. Second, it aims to support decentralizing economic reforms and the direction of production surplus into state finances, to secure state revenue. In substantiating these hypotheses, I argue that the movement is driven by the goal of capitalizing on the benefits of the market without compromising regime security, by regulating “competitive rent-seeking” between the elite and the middle class.

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