GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 309 Hot Topics December 2009

[“Good Friends” aims to help the North Korean people from a humanistic point of view and publishes “North Korea Today” describing the way the North Korean people live as accurately as possible. We at Good Friends also hope to be a bridge between the North Korean people and the world.]
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[Hot Topics No. 309]
Cabinet Resolution on Currency Revaluation Issued
Price of One Full Measure (Doe) of Rice Went up to 300,000 won at One Point in Sinuiju
One Full Measure (Doe) of Rice is Traded at 250,000 won in Chulsan County North Pyongan Province
Residents Close Their Mouth When They Face Strangers
Public Notice Banning Foreign Currency was Announced in Pyongyang

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[Hot Topics No. 309]
Cabinet Resolution on Currency Revaluation Issued

The cabinet resolution No.423 of currency revaluation has been issued. No.423-1 is for "stabilization and improvement of people’s livelihood" and No.423-2 is for "establishment of economic management system and order. In the meantime, the authorities handed down an order requesting the maximum punishment to be given to those who violate the rules of the currency exchange. Unlike the past currency reform in 1992, the implementation of the currency reform is executed under total control of the Party this time.

Price of One Full Measure (Doe) of Rice Went up to 300,000 won at One Point in Sinuiju
On December 1, one full measure (Doe) of rice was once traded at 300,000 won at Namsong market in Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province. The farmers from the nearby countryside came to Namsong market and sold the rice at 300,000 won. Beside, a pair of cotton-filled cloth was traded at 250,000 won, one bottle of bean oil at 250,000 won, and 1 kg of sweet potato at 60,000 won. The price for 100 lumps of coal was $4 USD, a bundle of 10 ballpoint pen size candles was sold at $1 USD. Those were the arbitrary prices that were set by merchants based on the market exchange rate of 400,000 won for 1 USD previous day. One kilogram of corn noodle was traded with 2 kg of corns instead of 1.3 kg previously.
At Chaeha market in Sinuiju prices of goods skyrocketed as 1 kg of pig foot was traded at 100,000 won, one pack of cigarette at 10,000 won, one cabbage at 5,000 won, and 1 kg of candy at 10,000 won respectively. There were many people who came with a sack full of money and buy up things indiscriminately. Signs of depression are apparent on people’s face, yet nobody is speaking up. Women laborers who work hard at the bottom of society can only weep in disbelief. In one occasion, an old lady who sells drawers on the street passed out at the news of currency revaluation. The elderly woman worked very hard to support her family and saved every penny by not spending any money on herself and the amount of money she has allegedly saved was as much as 4,000,000 won.

One Full Measure (Doe) of Rice is Traded at 250,000 won in Chulsan County North Pyongan Province
The marketplace at Chulsan-eup, Chulsan County, North Pyongan Province was relatively calm until December 1. However, today (December 2) farmers from the nearby farm village, apparently being aware of the news, were selling one full measure (doe) of rice at 250,000 won. They set aside 100,000 won for currency exchange and used the rest of money to buy clothing. The farmers who did not have a chance to make money were busy selling rice in order to get 100,000 won for currency exchange.

Residents Close Their Mouth When They Face Strangers
Security agents throughout the country went into a stakeout mode as residents come up with various ways of disposing the currencies that they can neither discard nor keep, and some of the agents are clandestinely gathering intelligence on people’s movement. The residents who noticed it are warning their close friends and family members saying “Close your mouth completely when you face strangers.” Kim Keum-sook (alias) who was selling fruits in Chaeha market in Sinuiju deplored that, “Residents are lamenting bitterly that this was the disaster they were talking about when people mentioned that this is the year of disaster. I would not complain about it if they provide food rations. Nothing can stop people after starving for three days. I get depressed when I think of a bleak future. My family will have to make living with 2,000 won. How am I going to do that?”

Public Notice Banning Foreign Currency was Announced in Pyongyang
Today, the city of Pyongyang delivered a public notice banning foreign currency. All sales display booth including the appliances display stand at foreign goods stores became empty at the news. In some occasions, there were incidents of some rich people buying up all electric goods in panic. In Sinuiju there were people who went to Korean-Chinese people’s house and traded $100 USD with Chinese Yuan at 40% of market exchange rate. That’s because of a rumor that Chinese Yuan will still be allowed while the U.S. Dollar will be banned. The wealthy are extremely anxious about how things will unfold.

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