GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 314 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. 314]
H1N1 Flu is Spreading Rapidly in Sinuiju
Sinuiju City Party Official, “Heard the death toll hit forty, but there must be more.”
Strict Inspection of Sanitary Disinfection Certificate at Every Checkpoint in North Hamgyong Province
Still No News about the Price Announcement after Currency Revaluation

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[Hot Topics No. 314]
H1N1 Flu is Spreading Rapidly in Sinuiju
Since the beginning of November the number of people infected by H1N1 flu is increasing rapidly in Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province. In Sinuiju, cases of people having fever and collapsing after getting infected by the flu are reported everyday. According to one medical worker, “All the patients can barely open their eyes and suffer from headache and high fever, which hit higher than 39°C. I visited one apartment complex, and patients from several households were suffering from the same symptoms. It looks like the new flu is spreading much faster than I thought.” There is no medicine for H1N1 at the hospital. As such, they are prescribing an antibiotic called Revosacine as a substitute measure. It is a Chinese medicine developed in Beijing reported to be effective. So, everyone is looking for this medicine. However, this medicine is already sold out in Sinuiju. The lower class people are suffering immensely from lack of medicine. Meanwhile, on December 4, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education issued an order of early winter break to schools throughout the country based on the number 1 report.

Sinuiju City Party Official, “Heard the death toll hit forty, but there must be more.”
According to a Sinuiju City Party official, North Pyongan Province, he was informed that more than forty people died from H1N1 in several cities and counties in the province, including Sinuiju, and Pyonsung in South Pyongan Province. However, he stated that the death toll would be more than double the reported number. He added that “the number probably would have been reduced to avoid announcing bad news in consideration of the public sentiment.”

Strict Inspection of Sanitary Disinfection Certificate at Every Checkpoint in North Hamgyong Province
North Hamgyong Province has issued an order saying, “Maintain strict control over passenger traffic to other provinces, cities, and counties’’ to each city, county, and social agencies. Starting from December 10, they will issue sanitary disinfection certificate to those who received vaccination, and allow passage after inspecting the certificate.

Still No News about the Price Announcement after Currency Revaluation
Public notice on the prices of goods and services was supposed to be announced at 5pm on Wednesday, December 9. However, the announcement has not been made yet. People are feeling uneasy because the official notice of the prices are continued to be delayed. The prices have gone up a lot compared to the beginning of currency reform. The prices in Sinuiju show that on November 28 the price of rice was 1,700 Won and it was 17 Won on December 2 which is still the same price after the conversion to new currency. However, today’s price is 40 Won which is more than double. Corn price, which was 7 Won (700 Won in old currency), has gone up to 25 Won which is about 3 and a half times higher. Wheat flour price has gone up twice as much from 15 Won (1,500 Won in old currency) to 30 Won. The price of egg has quadrupled from 2 Won per egg to 8 Won today. The merchants think that the prices are going up rapidly because of psychological factors contributed by the delay in the public notice of the prices.

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