Market conditions in North Korea, amid rising prices
By Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein
Unfortunately, Daily NK recently ceased general publication of their detailed price data, but a recent report details how prices are rising in the country. In combination with the crackdown on unauthorized small-scale trade, conditions are tough for the many North Koreans sustaining themselves through market trade:
A recent spike in the price of staples such as rice and corn at North Korean markets is making things even tougher for ordinary people in the country.
A source in Yanggang Province told Daily NK on Wednesday that the price of rice at markets in the city of Hyesan has been increasing since the beginning of last month.
Moreover, since June 30, the price of one kilogram of rice has gone above KPW 6,000, leaving more North Koreans without access to grain and stoking anxiety among the public, the source said.
He also reported that rising food prices have made things even harder for street vendors, who were already hit hard when the North Korean authorities closed the national borders and intensified crackdowns on the vendors.
According to the source, one resident of Hyesan who supports herself by selling rice cakes on the street has made few sales since June. Crackdowns by the Ministry of Social Security have kept her from selling rice cakes, putting her further in debt.
Without any income, the woman cannot even keep up with the interest on the loans she took out to fund her business. If she misses a second deadline for making her interest payment, the interest will balloon and her credit will collapse, leaving her unable to borrow any more money, he explained.
On top of her predicament, food prices in the market continue to rise, and the woman is now afraid she will become completely destitute.
“Even though the ‘barley hump’ has passed, food prices just keep getting higher and higher. The mood among the populace is so grim that some are afraid people will resort to cannibalism if things keep on like this. Many people are so famished because of the high cost of food that they can’t even go to work,” the source said.
(Source: Lee Chae-un, “Recent spike in rice and corn prices make things even more difficult for ordinary N. Koreans,” Daily NK, July 8th, 2022.)
Price data from Rimjingang also reflects this trend. Prices in their data set went from 5,400 won/kg for rice on June 10th, to 6,700 on the 17th and 6,600 on the 24th, and stabilized somewhat at 6,300 won on July 8th. In USD terms, that’s an increase from 0,72/kg to 0,86 most recently, an increase of almost 20 percent.View Original Article