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N. Korean cosmetics factories face dilemma due to poor sales

North Korean cosmetics factories are struggling with debt because no one is buying their products.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source in North Korea told Daily NK on Wednesday that “even though the import of raw materials from China is going more smoothly than during the COVID-19 pandemic, the cosmetics factories are in a dilemma because they can’t sell the products they make.”

According to the source, North Korean cosmetics factories faced production difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic because they were unable to import raw materials from China due to the border closure. Recently, raw material imports have been relatively brisk as trade expands with the opening of the border. As a result, cosmetic factories have accelerated production, diversified their products, and developed functional items.

The Choson Sinbo, the mouthpiece of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, reported on June 5 that Sinuiju Cosmetics Factory had developed various functional cosmetic products. These products were quite popular as they were tailored to the gender, age and constitution of the purchaser, it added.

However, cosmetics factories produce these products for export or foreign tourists rather than for the domestic market since they can charge more as most of the raw materials for these newly developed items are expensive.

The source said factories can make up what they spent on raw materials only if they charge a bit more, but demand has been slow.

“Before the border was closed due to COVID-19, North Korean cosmetics like Spring Scent, Unhasu, Mirae and Mt. Geumgang sold well in China, but now, few Chinese buy them,” the source said.

Before COVID-19, many Chinese consumers bought North Korean cosmetics out of curiosity and because they were inexpensive. Recently, however, Chinese interest in North Korean cosmetics has waned, and with transportation and customs fees skyrocketing since the pandemic, the selling price of North Korean cosmetics in China has risen about 30% from before COVID-19.

Even if the factories target foreign tourists, few travelers come to the North, and those who do are not interested in North Korean cosmetics, the source said.

“North Koreans don’t buy many cosmetics, and since we don’t sell much in China, we can’t make back the price of the raw materials,” an employee in charge of raw materials at a North Korean cosmetics factory told Daily NK. “You have to make back at least the cost of the raw materials, but the reality is that we can’t even do that.”

He added: “If things continue like this, it will get so bad that we won’t be able to keep production going.”

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. 

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

Read in Korean

July 05, 2024 at 09:36AM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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