GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No.316 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. 316]
Official Government-set Prices Are Publicly Announced in the Markets
On December 12, National Surveys on Public Opinion Are Initiated by City (County) Party Officials Regarding Currency Revaluation
Market Operations to Be Suspended for Three Days Beginning December 14, a Sign to Readjust Official Government-set Market Prices
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[Hot Topics No. 316]
Official Government-set Prices Are Publicly Announced in the Markets
North Korean authorities publicly announced the official national prices in the markets. Contents of announcement are as follow: 22 to 23 won per Kg for rice, 8 won for corn, 12 won for crushed maize, 10 won for corn noodle, 22 won for flour, 9 to 13 won for tofu soy, 50 won for soy oil, 12 won for red bean, 10 Won for string bean, 21 to 22 won for potato starch, 15 to 18 won for millet, 45 won for pork, 50 won for chicken, 40 won for dog meat, 45 won for rabbit meat, 30 to 50 won for whiting fish, 35 to 45 won for sea bass (a set of 2), 50 to 100 won for clams, 60 to 100 won for Atka mackerel, 3 won for an egg, 30 to 40 won for dried pepper, 40 won for powdered-sugar (sugar), 3 won for a cake of tofu, 30 to 40 won for a fresh octopus, 3 won for cabbage, 5 won for radish, 35 to 45 won for a package of food seasoning, 300 to 550 won for a ready-made men’s suit, 350 to 500 won for a ready-made women’s dress, 200 to 300 won for men’s underwear, 250 to 350 won for women’s underwear, 35 won for a pair of men’s jogging shoes, 30 won for a pair of women’s shoes, 200 to 300 won for a pair of men’s shoes, 250 to 400 won for a pair of women’s shoes, 10 50 15 won for market fee, 0.5 won for bicycle storage at market.



On December 12, National Surveys on Public Opinion Are Initiated by City (County) Party Officials Regarding Currency Revaluation
The Central Party issued a directive, “to listen to the people’s opinion as to what would be the best the government could do with food supply to the people and market prices.” Accordingly, beginning December 12, all the city and county party administration officials initiated national surveys on public opinion by selecting three households at random within each neighborhood unit. They paid visits to the randomly selected households and asked the heads of the households of their opinion on the currency revaluation. Questions were centered on whether laborers were compensated properly and whether the market prices were set appropriately. They also asked for frank and honest opinions about the national policies. They tried to persuade people hesitant to speak out that nothing would happen to them for their opinions. Information on the trends of public opinion collected in this manner by the propaganda section of city (county) party was sent to the central party through the provincial party. A party official made a comment, “City propaganda section listened to the words on the appropriateness of national policies and what people’s interests are. They found that presently, all the prices including grain price are going up too fast and closure of markets are causing hard times to people.”

On December 13, City (County) Party Plenary Sessions Get Busy in Efforts to Track Public Opinion Trends Regarding Currency Revaluation
Nationally, all the city (county) parties held plenary sessions to figure out the public opinion on the market prices after the currency revaluation. Present at the plenary sessions were party leaders of factories and public enterprises, general managers, security agency officials, police officials, other law enforcement officials including prosecutors, educators and medical-field officials. Each of them was asked of what changes they observed in their places of work after the currency revaluation. Prevalent were the opinions that instability of market prices since the currency exchange into new one causes hardships on the residents’ everyday lives. All of them urged that city (county) party should provide a means to resolve the problems as soon as possible. The secretary in charge of the party promised to the participants that the market prices will be reverted to the official market prices before December 20 as publicly announced. Currently, the prices of rice and corn per Kg are set at 23 and 8 won, respectively, but suggestions were made that they should come down to 19 and 7 won, respectively. Even the Central Party expressed willingness that it would finish assessment on the overall status of the market prices and residents’ everyday lives by the end of December and provide measures to enhance the standards of living conditions of laborers and farmers to stability as intended with the currency revaluation measure.

Market Operations to Be Suspended for Three Days Beginning December 14, a Sign to Readjust Official Government-set Market Prices
Since the currency revaluation, the market prices precipitously rose. Consequently, governmental authorities decided to suspend the markets for three days beginning December 14. The rationale is that the official national market prices will be readjusted before reopening of the markets. Department of National Price Commission will consider the public opinions and local situations throughout the nation in readjusting the official national market prices. Announcements were made through the city (county) parties that official national market prices would be readjusted during suspension of markets for three days beginning December 14. This news made residents wonder what kind of measures could be prepared during the ‘short’ three-day period.

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