Rice Price Stable around 1,000 Won

Daily NK
Kim Young Jin

The Daily NK had conducted commodity price research in northern and southern North Korea from the end of last year to this January. According to the research result, rice price, despite some regional difference, averaged around 1000 NK won per kilogram. The price of North Korea’s most fundamental grain differed based on local rice production and whether it was inland or border area.

In Sinuiju, a city bordered with Chinese Manchuria, residents enjoyed relatively low price of rice due to the city’s proximity to China and breadbasket of the country, Pyongan Province. Sinuiju’s rice price was as follows: North Korean rice 850 won per kg, South Korean one 870 per kg, and Chinese imports 800/kg. Other than rice, every item showed little increase in price except for pork meat (2500 won per kg).

Basic Prices – January 4, 2007
Rice (1kg): 
Sinuiju – 830 (produced in NK), 800(produced in China)
Kangdong – 750(produced in NK), 850 (produced in South Korea)
Kangdong hosts a military hosptial and military camp. Consequently, it maintains an excess supply of rice, making rice cheaper in Kangdong than in Sinuiju. 

Corn (1kg): Sinuiju – 340 (NK), 300 (China)
Pork (1kg): 2400~2500
An egg: 250
A chicken (2kg): 7000
Soy bean oil (1kg): 3300
Salt (1kg): 230
Wheat flour (1kg) 900
Diesel oil (1kg)/Gasoline (1kg) 2200 / 2700
Exchange rate (a dollar) 3,270 / 1Yuan = 425won 

In northernmost North Korea, Chongjin had had relatively high rice price. The port city close to Russia had been quarantined since outbreak of scarlet fever. In Chongjin, both North and South Korean rice cost around 1000 won/kg, and Chinese 900 won/kg.

The reason for stability of rice price around 1000 won/kg in North Korea is, in spite of what is happening outside the country, steady supply of the grain to meet next year’s demand. And moreover, stocking up or price regulations, which usually occur when shortage in rice production is expected, had not happened yet.

Given current rice circulation in private market, this spring would not be as bad as outsiders worry. Informers say that they could smuggle rice out of China whenever necessary.

Meanwhile, North Korea’s won had been weakened consistently. In second half of last year, market exchange rate was 2950 won per dollar; it is now 3270 won/ US dollar. Won per Chinese yuan has risen from 375 won/ 1yuan to 425 won/ yuan during the same time period.

In general raise in exchange rate forces commodities price to increase; however in North Korea, prices heavily depend on change in supply rate since the country is suffering ongoing shortage of it. For example, last year when the army started selling its gasoline stockpile, oil price fell from 3000 won/ kg to 2500-2600 won/kg in one month.

northern provinces prices for December 2006 
NK rice-1000
SK rice-1000
Chinese rice-900
Wheat flour-800
Pork (1kg)-2500
An egg-300
Soy bean oil-3200
Pepper paste-1500
There are much cheaper kind of socks, around 200won.
Sports shoes (produced in China)-4000
There are lots of different goods according to the qualities.
Headache specific- 10
The NK products cost 10 or 20 won
A note book-1000
There are price differences depending on the sizes of notebooks.
Land tax (per 4 sq. yds)-46
Exchange rate (a dollar)-3200
1 Yuan-148


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