North Korea Jacks Up Sand Prices, Switches Currency

Choson Ilbo (hat tip One Free Korea)
A sand supplier under virtual control of the North Korean army has notified its South Korean customers that the price of sand exported to South Korea would be going up by 60 percent.

On Thursday, the Korea International Trade Association, the Korean Aggregates Association and importers of North Korean sand said that the North recently sent an unexpected notice that it would raise the price of sand next month by W900 (US$1=W937) from US$1.6 (W1,500) to 2 euros (W2,400) per cubic meter.

Exports of North Korea’s sand, which is extracted mainly from seaside areas around Haeju, Hwanghae Province, are virtually controlled by the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces, the command authority of the North Korean People’s Army.

Chun Seong-whun, a senior research fellow with the Korean Institute for National Unification, said, “It would seem cash-strapped North Korea is trying to obtain foreign currency by raising the price of sand, which is quite flexible.”

Last year around 9.09 million cubic meters of sand were imported from the North. If the same amount of sand is imported this year, the North will see an additional W8.2 billion. In addition, experts believe that the North wants to change to euros because it is under suspicion of counterfeiting dollars. An increase in sand prices could seriously undermine profits for around 20 aggregates firms in South Korea.


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