Hefty price tag puts pork out of reach for most in Ryanggang Province

Kim Chae Hwan  |  2017-03-10 14:53
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The price of pork has risen significantly in North Koreas Ryanggang Province and has subsequently been disappearing from kitchen tables.

"In Sinpa County (Kim Jong Suk County), (1 kg of) pork is being sold at 17,550 KPW. Its becoming unaffordable for most people," a source in Ryanggang Province told Daily NK on March 5.

"With that kind of money, you can buy more than 3 kg of rice (1 kg = approx 4,700 KPW). So ordinary citizens have generally stopped buying it."

The price of pork at this time last year was about 11,500 KPW per kg, denoting a 6,000 KPW on-year increase. 

One of the main reasons behind the price rise is likely to be a lack of supply, a separate source in the province noted. Since March last year, smuggling of North Korean piglets and pork into China became commonplace, but insufficient supply has pushed prices up again. 

Traders have now sought to reverse the trend, moving Chinese pork over the border into North Korea, but increasing surveillance in the border area has stymied such efforts. 

"Its almost impossible to continue smuggling in the aftermath of Kim Won Hongs (the former Minister of State Security) purge and the ongoing investigation into the Ministry of State Security. Markets near the Chinese border are effectively paralyzed due to the lack of trade caused by the border lockdown," the source said.

The downturn in market activity is impacting many ordinary citizens, and the number of residents willing to work in the livestock industry has diminished. These factors suggest that prices are unlikely to drop in the near future.

"Nobody is willing to invest in feeding livestock. Some are even saying that pork prices will double," added a separate source in Ryanggang Province.

"Pork has been the only meat that many North Koreans can afford for the holidays, so there are a lot of bitter feelings about the price rise. In the end, the decision of the authorities to block the border area is only damaging ordinary people like us."

*Translated by Yejie Kim
*Edited by Lee Farrand

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