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Hyesan’s crackdown on street vendors eases

The recently launched crackdown on street vendors in Hyesan has eased recently, Daily NK has learned.

“The authorities have been conducting a special crackdown on street trading in Hyesan, although the crackdown has eased since Feb. 20,” a Daily NK source in Yanggang Province said Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity. “This is because the province’s party committee ordered the easing of restrictions on street trading to deal with the increase in the number of food-insecure families in the city.”

North Korea has long cracked down on street trading as an “anti-socialist and non-socialist” act that disrupts the socialist order. In particular, North Korea has intensified its crackdown since COVID-19, using quarantine efforts as a pretext. As a result, street vendors have often been seen fleeing to prevent crackdown personnel from taking their goods.

The source’s report suggests, however, that the authorities have relaxed their crackdown on street vendors since Feb. 20, focusing instead on eliminating the sale of prohibited goods. The source said no time limit had been set for the ease on restrictions.

As a result, street vendors can now often be found in alleyways near markets or along residential streets in Hyesan, with merchants plying their trade with little fear of being chased away by enforcers.

Street vendors still find earning money difficult

However, few street sellers make much money due to slow sales.

“Since it’s hard to make money from street trading, many people are still suffering hardship. Many people sell things on the street, just like in the market. When a buyer appears, the merchants gather around to match each other’s prices. Since this is the way they sell things, they can’t make much profit,” the source told Daily NK.

“Since they can’t make enough to buy even a kilogram of corn, many people are alleviating their hunger with thin gruel. People are still very worried about their livelihoods. This means that even if people are now able to engage in street trading, their livelihoods have not improved at all.

“The fact that the authorities have even relaxed the crackdown on street trading shows how difficult people’s lives are now. People are upset and saying that if things continue like this, there will be mass starvation during the barley hump [the spring period when food is scarce].”

Still, many people welcome the relaxed crackdown, saying they can now do business with peace of mind, even if they cannot earn much.

That being said, others fear that the relaxation is only a temporary measure to ease public anger, while some say the crackdown on street trading will resume early next month with the Day of the Sun – the holiday celebrating the birthday of North Korea’s founder Kim Il Sung – set for Apr. 15.

Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Lauler. 

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. For more information about Daily NK’s network of reporting partners and information-gathering activities, please visit our FAQ page here.

Please send any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

Read in Korean

March 18, 2024 at 12:30PM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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