GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 315 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. 315]
New Currency Prices Announced on December 9
Market Prices Still Unstable Despite the Release of Government Set Prices
Coalminer’s Salary is 8,000won in New Currency
Jang Sung-taek Pays a Visit to Hoeryung on December 8
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[Hot Topics No. 315]

New Currency Prices Announced on December 9
On December 9, new currency prices of goods set by the government were released nationwide. The government-set price of rice is 23 won per kg, corn 8 won, corn rice 12 won, corn noodle 10 won, wheat flour 22 won, tofu bean 9-13 won, bean oil 50 won, pork 45 won, radish 5 won, soy meat 15 won, peanut on string 10 won, and chemical seasoning 45 won per pack respectively.


Market Prices Still Unstable Despite the Release of Government Set Prices
A quick survey of current market prices in the major cities shows that there aren’t many items that are traded at the government set price. Most of the items are traded at prices that are higher than the government set prices. In the afternoon of December 11, rice was traded at 50 won per kg, corn 18 won, and corn noodle 20 won respectively in Chungjin city market in North Hamgyong Province, and they are all twice as much higher than the government set prices. However, only pork was traded at 45 won, which is the government set price. Until recently, pigs were reared in the farm by feeding the leftover grains that comes out of brewing. However, many farmhouses gave up pig farming because the grain price went up and wines are not selling very well. Many farmhouses are selling even the piglets to meat traders. As such, pork price is not rising, so it is traded at government set price.

Coalminer’s Salary is 8,000 won in New Currency
The coalminer’s salary was raised from the current 6,000 won to 8,000 won after currency exchange. The miners in the mine areas of North Hamgyong Province are pleased about it as they feel that they don’t have to work extra jobs to feed the family if they get paid 8,000 won a month with the new currency. Previously, they couldn’t even buy 3kg of rice with the salary of 6,000 won. The salary indeed had not much purchasing power. Since the miners could not make living with the salary they obtained food by excavating coals and sell them at the market, or they carried a bucket of coals on their way home from work and try to make ends meet that way. However, the new salary of 8,000 won in new currency is equivalent of 800,000 won in old currency and that gives expectations for a better life.

Jang Sung-taek Pays a Visit to Hoeryung on December 8
Jang Sung-taek, Director of the Ministry of Administration of the Party visited Hoeryung city, North Hamgyong Province. The purposes of his visit were to survey and direct the municipal affairs for improvement of people’s livelihood in connection with currency exchange. Meanwhile, with a special consideration of Kim Jong-il, chairman of DPRK National Defense Commission Hoeryung city will receive special gifts including an Arirang TV set. Hoeryung city called for an all city party member meeting and discussed how to allocate the special gifts.
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