North Korea Today No. 322 Special Edition - Jan 2010

News and Press Release
Originally published


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Soonam Market in Chungjin to be Closed in March

North Korean authorities are to close down Soonam market in Chungjin, North Hamgyong Province in March following the shutdown of Pyongsung market in South Pyongan Province last June. The cabinet decided on a measure to cease the operation management of the Soonam market on December 30, which practically means a closure. Hereafter, North Hamgyong Provincial Party Committee will take charge of the closing process and take the party leadership initiative. The provincial party decided "to implement a propaganda campaign project in order to control opinions and utterances of the residents." The intention is to eradicate possible strong resistance of the residents by means of a carefully designed ideology campaign. Having been in operation only for five years, Soonam market is located between Chumok-dong and Chungnam-dong in Soonam District. The Provincial Party plans to demolish the market beginning in March and build trendy parks and houses.

The decision to close Soonam market is expected to shock the residents who rely on trading just like the closing down of Pyonsung market. Soonam market is well-known as 'the Republic's Wholesale Market' along with Pyongsung market. It is a market with the most commercial activities in the country, and business in trucks is active in particular. As such, the market was regarded by the North Korean authorities as a breeding ground of anti-socialist phenomena, especially unlawful activities. Soonam market is also a place where a group of female merchants protested in opposition to a measure that banned women under 50 from doing business in March, 2008, which perplexed the Central Party.

A South Hamgyong Provincial Party official explained, "There is no other reason for the Party to close down Soonam market than to pave the way to the Strong and Prosperous Nation." Currently, approximately more than 40% of residents of Chungjin are estimated to rely on Soonam market, so the impact of its closure is expected to be substantial. Households that make livings by trading at the market are deeply concerned about their future without the market already.