Shenyang, China — The North Korean authorities finally released fixed prices for 100 items across the country at 3 P.M. on Thursday. A Daily NK source inside North Korea revealed the news today in a telephone conversation, saying, “The authorities announced state-designated prices for 100 items in a notice posted at the entrance to markets on Thursday afternoon.
Alongside the message came a warning, “If traders fail to sell goods at the stated prices, goods will be confiscated.” The price list includes those for rice and corn. By implication, the selling of food has now been officially sanctioned in the market.
If the listed prices are enforced, however, confusion and anger are absolutely inevitable, because the gap between the newly-posted prices and real jangmadang prices is enormous.
For example, the latest real rice price in the jangmadang is 350 won per kilo, while corn is selling for 180 won; however the state-designated prices are 240 won and 130 won respectively. The jangmadang price of pork is around 300 won more expensive than its state-designated price.
Inevitably, therefore, traders’ increasingly wily attempts to circumvent the unrealistic demands of the state are continuing apace, “For now,” the source explained, “traders are pretending to sell for the released prices, but in reality they are selling for the existing jangmadang prices.”
According to the state price list, rice is 240 won per kilo; corn is 130 won; pork is 700 won; soy beans are 160 won; oil is 600 won; a kilogram of apples is 250 won; and a single egg is 21 won. Meanwhile, a toothbrush is 25 won; bars of soap, tubes of toothpaste and laundry soap are all 50 won; sneakers are 500 won; toilet paper is 50 won; a notebook comes in various sizes between 25 and 55 won; lighters are 70 won; shoes are 1,300 won; a flashlight is 500 won and a single battery 100 won. Children’s clothes are 1,500 won; children’s winter clothes are 5,000 won; and finally socks are listed as 350 won a pair…
The director of DPRK Institute of Social Sciences has publically stated that the shocking currency reforms announced last November were aimed at filling the state’s public finance coffers.
In an interview for the Choson Sinbo, a newspaper distributed by the pro-North ‘General Association of Korean Residents in Japan,’ director Kim Cheol Jun revealed, “[last year’s] currency exchange program in [North Korea] was effectively carried out…through the currency exchange, socialist economic management principles could be better realized and a public finance foundation was prepared on which leaping advancements in the lives of the people will be achieved.”
Many experts in South Korea and abroad had speculated that the North’s objective in revamping its currency was to boost public coffers, but this was the first time that anyone from North Korea had publicly alluded to such goal. Director Kim stated that last year was a year ‘carved into history’ as the year in which the nation was turned around toward the realization of the goals set for 2012, noting that new seeds had been developed to boost crop yields, and that double- and triple-cropping as well as improved potato and bean crops had been accomplished.
Director Kim also stated that a decisive turn-around had been made in resolving food shortage problems, noting the successful development of Lyosell as one example of improved production in North Korea. Lyosell is a silk-like material made from wood pulp transformed into cellulose, and is softer and more hygroscopic than cotton, yet almost as strong as polyester.
Director Kim added that last year also saw the completion of the Yeoungwon Powerplant, the Yeaseong River No. 1 Youth Powerplant, and the Keumya River Powerplant, as well as the installation of Computer Numerical Control (CNC) systems in the Taean Heavy Machinery Complex, the Cheollima Steel Complex, and the Hyecheong Construction Machinery Factory…See the full text of IFES (NK Brief No.10-01-29-1) here…