Rice price exceeds 6,000 KPW and continues to rise

Seol Song Ah  |  2017-07-06 14:18
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Rice prices have been steadily rising recently in North Korea and have exceeded 6,000 KPW per kilo, leaving many residents concerned. This time of year is usually when grain storage drops, and the situation has worsened due to declining trade with China. 

People were previously relieved by the fact that prices did not rise steeply following the implementation of sanctions against North Korea, but now theyve finally caught up. 

According to a source in North Pyongan Province, rice (1 kg) is selling at 6,000 KPW (0.74 USD) in Chaeha market in Sinuiju (North Pyongan Province). Until only two weeks ago, the price was around 5,000 KPW, but has steadily risen since then.

According to sources in other regions, rice prices have risen ubiquitously, and the grain is being traded at 5900 KPW in Hyesan Market, Ryanggang Province, 5800 KPW in Pyongyang, and 5700 KPW in Pyongsong, South Pyongan Province.

Sources have noted that the reductions in rice storage and China's active implementation of sanctions are likely the primary reasons behind the steep rise.

"The rice harvested last year is almost all gone, and the rice that was continuously imported from China is now blocked. Until earlier this month, rice was constantly brought in through smuggling, but this has also been cut," said a source in South Pyongan Province.

"The illegal methods of import and export, including the use of false packaging, has become almost impossible because the Chinese authorities have strengthened regulations. Without the approval of the Chinese government, we cannot even import wheat flour from China.

Residents, who are sensing that the rise in prices is foretelling of future difficulties, are reducing spending. As a result of the reduced consumer sentiment, general market business has also declined.

"Residents with private plots can harvest potatoes to be consumed during the spring poverty period, but those who make a living through daily labor like transporting luggage with bikes are deeply concerned about food. Meanwhile, the executives and donju (newly-affluent middle class) are maintaining their standards of living regardless of the price rises," she added.

The fact that there does not seem to be a solution that will lead to price stabilization is causing a rise in general anxiety.

"People are expressing their concerns, saying, 'Even China has abandoned us,' and 'This year's farming is doomed because of the drought.' Unless the North Korean authorities cooperate with international society to put an end to sanctions in the near future, discontent toward the regime may reach boiling point sooner or later," the North Pyongan Province source said.

*Translated by Yejie Kim
*Edited by Lee Farrand

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