By Joo Sang Min, The Straits Times, Jan. 24, 2005
SEOUL - NORTH Korea has introduced laws for the protection of private property, a move that indicates the country's desire to change as it grapples with growing economic and social turmoil resulting from market reforms. However, stiffer punishments for what are called 'anti-state crimes' have also been enacted, marking out the challenges that the government will not allow to its power.
According to North Korea watchers here, some changes spelt out in the communist state's new legal code show that Mr Kim Jong Il's regime has come to heed the realities of the times. Like people elsewhere, North Koreans now have more contact with the outside world following market reforms in 2002. Recognition of the sanctity of private property is the most important breakthrough in the new laws. The section relating to this says that homes, vehicles, money, household appliances and other personal property are now inheritable - formerly seen as an attribute of capitalism.
Other changes include the right of citizens to seek legal recourse if their property is damaged or lost by another party. Those found guilty of taking other people's assets by force will face a higher jail term than the previous ceiling of 10 years.---------------------