Agricultural and houselhold commodities:
-Shin Eui Joo: The price rose from 850 won/kg (18th) to 900won/kg (31st)/ whole sale price: 620won/kg
-Bak Chun Gun: October: 1000won/kg, November 800won/kg (trading rice was banned in October with resumption of food distribution system, which caused the rising price.)
-Pyeongyang: Honammi 800won/kg Annammi 680won/kg
-Shin Eui Joo: 400won/kg (December)
-Bak Chun Gun: 350won/kg (November)
-Shin Eui Joo: 3,300won/kg (December)
-Bak Chun Gun: 3,500won/kg (November)
4) Beef: 7,000won/kg (Beef is seldom sold at markets, but was temporarily out in the black market for new year’s holiday season.)
5) Cooking Oil
-Shin Eui Joo: 2,300 won/kg (November)/Yellow Oil
-Bak Chun Gun: 2,500won/kg (November)/Yellow Oil
-Same in the region of Shin Eui Joo, Sah Ree Won, Bak Chun Gun: 2000won/bag(200g)
-Bak Chun Gun: Brassiere: 4,000~6,000won, Children’s underwear: 5,000~6,000won
-Shin Eui Joo : Underclothes: 10,000~15,000won/piece, 20,000~30,000won/set
-Bak Chun Gun: 500~2,000won/pair (socks for winter)
– Bak Chun Gun: high quality: 15,000won, poor quality: 3,000~4,000won/ Handmade: 2,500won
-Shin Eui Joo: the same as November
11) Price of house and rent
-Shin Eui Joo: One storied house (1 Room, 1 Kitchen): $600, Apartment (2 Rooms, 1 Kitchen): $1,500, Well-located apartment (3 Rooms, 1 Kitchen): $10,000~15,000(able to bargain), 100 Sq.m- apartment: $12,500 (90,000~100,000 Chinese Yuan)
-Sa Ree Won: 100 Sq.m apartment $8,750 (70,000 Chinese Yuan)
-Bak Chun Gun: One storied house (2 Rooms, 1 Kitchen): around $100, Three storied apartment: around $150~200
1. A middleman receives 10% of the purchase as compensation. If one moves to a purchased house, one needs to receive a certificate which records that you are allowed to live in the house from a police officer in charge of registration in the neighborhood, usually the payment is one mal(10du/15kg) of rice.
2. Expense for making Kimchi(Bak Chun Gun): Chinese cabbage 200won/head, Red pepper powder 2500won/kg, garlic 3,000won/100heads, ginger 300won/kg, salt 350won/kg, sugar 1,000won/kg, salted anchovies 1,500won/kg, scallion is raised at home. Approximately 40,000~45,000won is expended for making 150 heads of Kimchi (usually consumed with rice, and is made with pepper, scallion and salted anchovies), for family of four.
Local Fees and Markets:
1) Electricity- Bak Chun Gun: 10won/lightbulb, 70won for black and white TV (per quarter)
2) Water- Bak Chun Gun: flat rate of 200won per house (per quarter)
3) Tax on land – Bak Chun Gun: 200won/2.5 Sq.m (per month)
4) Payment for spot at markets (Bak Chun Gun)
5) Exchange rate for Renminbi and US dollar
Shin Eui Joo: 2,900won/$ (November 1: 2,715)/ Rinminbi 360won/yuan (November 1:320)/ 3600won/Euro
1. No payment at markets, but general tax is imposed. 20won/day for agricultural products, and tax for industrial products vary according to the goods.
2. Spots in Markets are rarely traded. For people starting their business at the market, relationship with the manager is important. When business with the manager was successful, managers make a spot for them by making others’ spots smaller.
Health Care and clothing:
1) Medicine for cold and antibiotics (Bak Chun Gun)
-Medicine for cold: Chung Yeong Poong 10won/pill (Adults consume 2 pills)/ Antibiotics: Penicillin 100won per ampoule/ Distilled water: 30won
-Antibiotics: when one receives an injection of 1 ampoule of Penicillin mixed with distilled water, the doctor is paid 100won aside from the price of medicine.
2) Bribe paid for medical examination and basic treatment (Bak Chun Gun)
-5000won for releasing a medical certificate, 350won for 1 injection (ex, glucose 500g), 100won for Penicillin
3) Stationaries (Bak Chun Gun)
-Won Joo Pil( Ball Pen): 250won, Notebook (paper made of straw): 5won/20pieces, Hand-made bag in North Korea, 2,000~3,000won, Uniforms used to be purchased at a flat rate set by the government with a coupon, but uniform is seldom sold at a shop these days. People usually purchase fabrics of appropriate color and size, and hand made the uniforms. (official state rate for elementary school uniform used to be 1,500won)
Monthly tuition and expense (Bak Chun Gun) :
-No monthly tuition is officially required, but some parents give some money to the teachers privately and school requires the students to prepare various materials.
– Club activity: the students need to pay 5,000won every month. (If one participates in cell activity, he/she is exempted from external labor or social labor ).
– Monthly payment is 10 bundles of firewood/Iron 3kg/Vinyl 1kg/Rubber 1kg
– -Students who fail to bring the materials are returned home without being allowed into the class.
-Shin Eui Joo: same as November
-Bak Chun Gun: Electricity was provided throughtout all day despite frequent blackouts occurred in the summer. / Since the beginning of the winter, electricity was provided only between 10:30pm~ 4am due to poor supply. (Mostly, candles are used at night. Candles are 40won each).
– Pyeongyang: electricity is provided for 24 hours, but blackouts occur often. Sometimes, 3~4 hours of blackout occur.
-In case of Bak Chun Gun downtown, water pipes freeze in the winter. People dig wells for water.
-In case of Pyongyang, peripheral area is provided with water only once or twice a week. (The time when water is supplied is not announced beforehand. People have to watch the faucet on all the time).
Railway system and transportation fee:
-The fare for train from Bak Chun~ Won San with a transfer at Gaema Highland (Where Pyong Buk Sun and Gang Won Sun meets) is 35won, but most of the officials at the station hide the tickets and sell them for 1,000won.
-In order to buy train tickets, one needs to make a reservation a day ahead and stand in line to buy the ticket on the day. However, honored soldiers, soldiers on service and school teachers have priority, and it is hard for common people to buy tickets.
-What is interesting is that a lot of people take the train without paying the fare when moving from Bak Chun Gun to Ahn Joo Gun by Shin Eui Joo-Gae Sung train. It is because no body checks the tickets in this block.
Cars, buses and car fare between major cities:
-Pyongyang: same fare of 5won for subway, train without track
-Bus between Bak Chun ~ Shin Eui Joo runs once a day, and the fare is 2,500~2,800won. Additional 1,000won needs to be paid for one luggage.
-Shin Eui Joo~Nampo/ Roundtrip, once a day, 10,000won
-Shin Eui Joo~Won San/ Roundtrip, once a day/ 12,000won (10,000won possible after bargaining)
-Shin Eui Joo~Sa Ree Won/ Roundtrip, once a day/ 12,000won (10,000won possible after bargaining)
Footnote: No departure time is designated. The train leaves when the train is full.
-Shin Eui Joo: Same as before. Some of the private inns are as well organized as hotel. Chinese Koreans usually use them, and it costs 5,000won per night.
-Bak Chun Gun: State owned inns lacked heating system and was filled with lice, which is why they rarely exist now. Individuals run lodging facilities now (similar to lodging at a private residence)/ they come out to the station in order to invite guests, and it costs 100won per night.
Expense for obtaining travel document:
-Travel document: it costs 10,000won to travel from Bak Chun to Pyeongyang (ten box of cigarettes branded “Cat”)/ if using other ways, 6,000won~8,000won (Jagangdo 7,000won/Chungjin 8,000won/Pyeongsung 6,000won)/ 500won from Bakchun to Shin Eui Joo (Within a province)
-Travel document is not supposed to cost any money, but Municipal adminisrative committee, county administrative committee and officials in charge of the process publicly asks for money/ Only expense for travel documents to Pyongyang is flat rate of 10,000won, and expense for other provinces differ by person.
-Travel document to cross the river: Valid for one month, and cannot be extended/ costs around $100~200, which is not much more than passport or visa. (more money paid, the document is more quickly issued)/ Fee for travel document to cross the river is set for 20,000won by the government.
-When Chinese citizen visited North Korea with the document, extension is only available with a cost of $100 a day. (When one has good relationship with people of National Security Agency or any other relevant organizations, he/she can pay $50 a day) Because of the fee, they rarely extend the document.
-Passport and visa: DPRK passport is valid for 2 months and Chinese visa is valid for 90 days (In North Korea, expiration date on DPRK passport is more important than that on Chinese visa)/ Extension can be made twice, but extension is rarely requested by anyone (Specific reason for extension needs to be provided, which is a lot of work)/ Also, certificate of health is only valid for 4 months, which means that the passport cannot be extended twice/ fee for issuance of passport is set by the government for 40,000won (Some people say 150,000won). But actual expense is $100~500, and the expense varies depending on the region, person (interpersonal skills, ability, relationship with others) and the waiting time to get the passport (1 month~1year)/ Passport is issued in 1~2 months with a payment of $500 for Pyongyang, and 2~3months with a payment of $300 for other regions. / DPRK passport is valid for 2 months, but it is actually issued 1 month after the issue date.
-When visiting China to visit relatives, applicants for passport and travel document to cross the river are classified separately. In case of crossing Yalu River, if the applicant intends to stay in Dandong Province (Dandong, Bongsung, Donggang, Gwanjun) they need to apply for travel document, and if they intends to go farther than Dandong Province and for example, visit relatives in Shenyang and Fushun, they need to apply for passport.
-A case of procedure to obtain travel documents to cross the river and visa (with purpose of visiting the relatives)
-Application and procedure -> Mid March, Fill out the application (Hand $200 to officials at the office of foreign works: Confirmation of the relatives at the office of foreign works, military security office, and military police office, confirmation by a chair of women’s committee, Approval from Provincial Police Office and National Security Agency) -> Issuance of travel documents to cross the river in the beginning of November -> Two-day education in the beginning of November (First day: Exhibition on battle against espionage/ Second day: special education by the deputy of military security offic / Lastly, write out the oath) -> entered China on 23 November
Price of a business spot at the market (Bak Chun Gun)
-In case of the market at Bak Chung Eup, they don’t have the price of business spots.
Food Distribution System
-Bak Chun Gun: Distribution was carried out twice in the beginning and the end of October/ Distribution was halted in November/ The amount distributed was 15kg and did not meet the assigned amount of 57kg/ Official amount: 700g for workers, 300g for housewives, 500g for 15 year old child, 400g for 13 year old child/ rice/other crops ratio is 3:7
-Pyongyang: Food distribution was not halted except for the three months period of April~June 2005./ The amount distributed is 485g(official: 700g) for workers, 300g for housewives, 200g for students (official amount 300~500g)/ ratio of rice and other crops was 5:5. The ratio was sometimes 7:3 when things are better than the usual/ The price was 36won for Annammi, 54won for Honam rice (received from South Korea)/ Price at Yangjungso(Place where rice is gathered) was 20won less than market price/ Everyone is supposed to purchase rice from Yangjungso, but because of poor quality of rice, some well-off people buy rice at market.
-Shin Eui Joo and Sa Ree Won is similar to Bak Chun Gun.
Events, accidents, things to pay attention to
1) Penalty for listening to foreign broadcasting or watching illegal recordings
Case1> There was a public trial and punishment in July~August 2004 for 5 people for watching illegal recordings at a conference room of Gun Management Committee of Bak Chun Gun, located in downtown. / The penalty was expulsion of the family of the involved party to the mountains.
Case 2> A person who sold and showed VCD in Pyongyang in November 2005 was arrested. During investigation, the person committed suicide using a string on his bag while the investigator was absent. Reason for the suicide was not to harm the rest of his/her family/In Pyongyang as well, when one gets caught while watching illegal recordings, the penalty is usually an expulsion.
2) Wire telephone and charge for phone calls
– Installation of wire telephone: $200 at Sa Ree Won and Bak Chun Eup, $300 at Shin Eui Joo for obtaining a phone number as well/ customer needs to purchase the wire separately
-User of private wire telephone: There are relatively a lot of users of private wire telephone at Bak Chun Eup because there are a lot of Returnees from Japan and traders. Among 120 households, there are 11 households with telephone./ When somebody want to use wire telephone in a neighborhood, around 500won is paid.
-Common people use telegram for communication. 10won is charged for one page, and .5won is charged for each additional word.
-Bak Chun Gun: There was a rumor that private cultivation would be allowed starting from this year, but instead of private cultivation, a group farming was adopted. Each group pay the assigned amount to the government, and the rest was left for the individuals to take care of. However, the groups needed to take care of fertilizer and pesticides which caused decline of the yield/ Phrase including “Communism” is gradually decreasing (example, “Communist Ethics” was replaced with “Socialist Ethics” in textbooks for elementary, middle and high school. “Rice is Communism” was replaced with “Rice is Socialism” as well/General atmosphere is that people do not believe what government and the party says.
-Pyongyang: Broadcasting criticized the resolution on situation of human rights in DPRK at the UN, but it is heard that the criticism has caused side effects/ Many of the people think that the resolution must have been adopted because there is a problem of human rights in DPRK/People in Pyongyang are known to be unhappy with Kim’s regime but have no way to change it. So they try to be patient and endure.