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N. Korea’s markets continue to see rise in food prices

Grain prices at North Korean marketplaces continue to rise. North Korean food prices are even higher than in May 2023, when cereal prices peaked due to the closure of the country’s borders.

According to Daily NK’s regular survey of North Korean market prices, a kilogram of rice sold for KPW 5,650 at a marketplace in Pyongyang on May 26. That represented a 2.17% increase from the previous survey on May 12.

Rice prices at a marketplace in Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province, rose at a similar rate to those in Pyongyang. A kilogram of rice traded for KPW 5,700 at a marketplace in Sinuiju on May 26, up 2.89% from two weeks earlier.

The upward pressure on rice prices at a marketplace in Hyesan, Yanggang Province, was more pronounced than in other areas. A kilogram of rice at a market in Hyesan sold for KPW 6,800 on May 26, rising 4.61% in just two weeks.

The latest jump in rice prices in Hyesan has widened the gap with current Pyongyang prices to KPW 1,1150.

Rice has long been more expensive in Yanggang Province because of the small amount of rice grown locally and the difficulty of distribution. However, this is the first time (other than during the border closure period) that there has been such a wide disparity in rice prices within North Korea.

The North Korean authorities have set up grain warehouses in various regions to supply and sell locally grown rice. The apparent reason that rice prices in Hyesan have risen so much compared to other regions is that less rice is grown in Yanggang Province than in other regions.

Meanwhile, the price of rice in all three cities (Pyongyang, Sinuiju and Hyesan) has reached the highest point so far this year. Worse, the average price of rice in these cities at the end of May is even higher than last year, when the price peaked during the pandemic.

In a related development, the price of corn in North Korean marketplaces appears to be rising slightly.

A kilogram of corn at a marketplace in Pyongyang was trading for KPW 2,800 on May 26. Considering that the May 12 survey found corn selling for KPW 2,700, the price has effectively gone up KPW 100 over the past two weeks.

But at marketplaces in Sinuiju and Hyesan, a kilogram of corn cost the same as it did two weeks ago.

Trading companies in each region are currently importing their own food, and the North Korean authorities have reportedly imported thousands of tons of wheat from Russia. But market prices for grain continue to rise, presumably because not nearly enough wheat is being imported to meet North Korea’s food shortages.

Moreover, the current market price of wheat is over KPW 11,000 per kilogram, which is much higher than what North Koreans pay for their staple foods of rice and corn. In practical terms, wheat has done little to stabilize the food supply.

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

May 31, 2024 at 06:30AM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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