North Korea Today No. 319 - Dec 2009

News and Press Release
Originally published


["Good Friends" aims to help the North Korean people from a humanistic point of view and publishes "North Korea Today" describing the way the North Korean people live as accurately as possible. We at Good Friends also hope to be a bridge between the North Korean people and the world.]


Farmers Received Cash Distribution of 14,000-15,000 Won per Person

After closing the accounts for cash distribution for this year, results show that farmers received on average 14,000-15,000 won in cash per person. There are many farms that did not finish closing their accounts. However, those farms that have finished are issuing the full amount to farmers regardless of the number of days they have worked. The majority of families have more than two farmers in the household, so they received cash distribution of more than 30,000 won on average. In the case of a 4-member household, the cash distribution amount was up to 60,000 won. Those farmers who received cash after a long period of shortage are beginning to spend money to prepare for the New Year's Day celebration. As a result, the prices of goods have more than doubled in the midst of instability in the market, as farmers spend a great deal of money to purchase goods for the New Year's Day celebration. In the case of Sinuiju, North Pyungan Province, the prices are going up rapidly because farmers are going to the city and buying up refined rice, wheat flour, bean oil, as well as other items. The price of a five-liter bottle of bean oil is 280 won, but it is hard to obtain even at 380 won.

Government-set Price is Higher than the Market Price, an Odd Phenomenon

Disbursement of salaries for December for workers and retirement welfare money in new currency has been completed. The increased value of the new currency turned a salary of 2,000 won into a large amount of money that can purchase about 45 kg of rice (given the price of 44 won for 1 kg of rice). Two thousand won in old currency was not enough for even 1 kg of rice. On December 25, the price of pork was 120 won per kilogram in Sinuiju, but the price jumped to 140 won in less then half an hour. In Chulsan-eup, Chulsan County, North Pyungan Province, pork was selling at 170 won per kilogram. The selling price prior to the currency exchange was 7,500 won per kg, but now the price is equivalent to 17,000 won in old currency. Thus, there are goods for which the prices are going up by the hour, but at the same time there are items for which the government-set prices are much higher than market price because the prices remain as they were before the currency exchange. For instance, the price of a bar of soap called Bohmhyanggie (scent of spring) produced by a cosmetic factory in Sinuiju is 30 won, the same as before the currency exchange. The official price of a bar of soap prior to the currency exchange was 700-1,000 won each, which was 20 times more expensive than the government-set price of 30 won. However, things changed after the currency exchange. The government-set price is still 30 won, but in the market, it is selling for 10 won in the new currency. There is a small grocery store in front of Chaeha Market in Sinuiju, North Pyungan Province. Here, goods are being sold for one hundredth (1/100) of their previous price. People say, "There is always a stampede of people at the store. Previously, the government-set price was always cheaper than market price, but now for some items it is more expensive than the market price."