The upward trend in North Korean grain prices that began in December has continued into the New Year. The country’s economic difficulties have led to a sharp rise in corn prices, as demand for corn is higher than that for rice.
According to Daily NK’s regular survey of North Korean market prices, a kilogram of rice sold for KPW 4,820 in a Pyongyang market on Jan. 7. By comparison, the price of rice at a Pyongyang market on Dec. 24 was KPW 4,800.
In other parts of the country, however, such as Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province, and Hyesan, Yanggang Province, the price of rice rose slightly more than in Pyongyang.
On July 7, the price of a kilogram of rice at a market in Sinuiju was KPW 4,910, up 1.9% from KPW 4,820 two weeks earlier.
In Hyesan, rice prices rose by a similar amount as in Sinuiju. On the same day, the price of a kilogram of rice at a market in Hyesan was KPW 5,100, up 2% from Dec. 24.
After rising to KPW 6,600 in mid-September, when the rice harvest began in North Korea, prices in Hyesan fell to KPW 4,830 in early December, when the harvest ended. However, prices soon recovered and have been above KPW 5,000 per kilogram since the end of last month.
North Korean rice prices are usually low in December after the harvest and begin to rise in late December or January. This year, however, rice prices began to rise in mid-December.
The survey also found that North Korean corn prices have risen more than rice.
On January 7, a kilogram of corn was sold for KPW 2,270 at a market in Sinuiju. This is up 11.4% from KPW 2,030 on Dec. 24.
Corn prices dropped sharply in early to mid-December, with a kilogram selling for KPW 1,900 at a market in Sinuiju, but soon recovered to the KPW 2,000 to 2,500 range.
At a market in Hyesan, the price of corn exceeded KPW 2,500 on Jan. 7, an increase of 8.7% from the price two weeks ago (KPW 2,300).
Corn prices are rising faster than rice because North Koreans, whose purchasing power has declined due to economic hardship, are increasingly turning to corn as a staple food.
Meanwhile, North Korean authorities claimed at a year-end Workers’ Party meeting that “surpassing the target for the production of grain, a dominant staple food that is crucial to the overall economic development and people’s livelihood security, is the most valuable and splendid achievement of our economic efforts in 2023.”
However, even after the harvest, grain sales have been limited to five kilograms per person due to a shortage of grains. While state-run food stores originally sold grain at about 20% below market prices, the gap between grain prices and market prices has recently narrowed significantly.
Translated by Robert Lauler.
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January 12, 2024 at 01:30PM
by DailyNK(North Korean Media)