Is North Korea experimenting with change?

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Daily Herald - AP, 9/13/12

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is accompanied by his wife Ri Sol Ju during a visit to the Rungna People's Pleasure Ground in Pyongyang Photo: AFP/Getty Images

PYONGYANG, North Korea -- Deep in the North Korean countryside, in remote villages that outsiders seldom reach, farmers are now said to be given nearly one-third of their harvests to sell at market prices. Collective farms are reportedly being reorganized into something closer to family farms. State propagandists are expounding the glories of change under the country's new young leader.

In the rigidly planned economy of this Stalinist state, could this be the first flicker of reform? A string of long-doubtful observers have become increasingly convinced that economic change is afoot, akin to China's first flirtations with market reforms 30 years ago. But, they also warn, exactly what is happening remains a mystery.

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