North Korean traders asking Chinese counterparts for money

Kim Ga Young  |  2017-03-08 11:13
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Reports suggest that North Korean workers have recently started asking for assistance from Chinese trading partners, including the provision of money, grain, and other goods, as the North Korean authorities have assigned excessive quotas to them for the year.

"North Korean traders in the border areas of China, including Yanji City of Jilin Province, have recently been asking their Chinese acquaintances for help, particularly for foods such as corn and rice, a source close to North Korean affairs in China told Daily NK on March 2.

"The North Korean workers emphasize the barley hump [farming lean period] and their overall struggle to the point that it makes their Chinese interlocutors uncomfortable and embarrassed.

Incidents of this nature have come in waves since the currency reformation that occurred in 2009. At the time, North Korea experienced a sharp increase in market prices and reductions in currency circulation due to an erroneous policy that replaced the old currency with a new currency (at an exchange ratio of 1:100). When those who were ruined by the policy made ardent appeals to the authorities about not having enough food, they were told to, go to China and ask for it.

"One particular North Korean trader even asked for funds to order one thousand work uniforms for laborers at Pukchang Thermal Power Plant (located in South Pyongan Province).' This was an absurd request that had nothing to do with the actual laborers,  the source said.

North Korea maintains a supply center for coal mine workers in each province. These centers are supposed to provide workers with clothes, toiletries, shoes, nutrients, and oil, etc. However, it is said that only a small amount of toothbrush or toothpaste of poor quality is given to each worker.

Another source close to North Korean affairs in China said, "If a single uniform costs 50 RMB, a thousand would cost 50,000 RMB, which is a huge amount of money in a North Korean context. They should have at least asked for fabric instead of begging for money."

"Despite the obvious strain the individual was under, his Chinese counterparts scoffed and rebuffed the request, to which the North Korean responded by telling them to keep the discussion a secret [from embarrassment and/or to make the same request to others], she added.

*Translated by Yejie Kim
*Edited by Lee Farrand

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