A Packet of “Seven” Cigarettes Costing 11,000 Won

Daily NK
Kim Min Se

Cigarette prices escalate as Japan toughens economic sanctions

Following Japan’s economic sanctions, North Koreans are finding it to difficult to splash out on luxury goods, an inside source informed on the 17th.

Though only a minority of the rich are experiencing this hardship as the import of Japanese cigarettes and foods slowly come to a halt, it will be interesting to note what further repercussions will follow as a result of Japan’s sanctions.

The North Korean rich often lavish on “Seven” cigarettes, made in Japan which is known to be different to “Mild Seven” sold in South Korea. It is a much stronger cigarette containing 14mg of tar and 1.4mg of nicotine,

Seven was first introduced to North Korea in the mid-1980’s and has captivated tobacco preference of North Koreans ever since. As living standards deteriorate in North Korea Seven cigarettes have become a rare commodity for an average person to have today, though earlier in the 90’s, Seven was a luxury cigarette smoked by the majority of North Koreans. In particular, merchants who accumulated wealth through North Korea-China trade still prefer this brand to others.

Unlike other popular luxuries, smoking is a habit which becomes easily addictive. Hence, a handful of North Korean elites who in the past commonly smoked Seven’s and acquired its taste are experiencing withdrawal symptoms today, due to Japan’s economic sanctions and consequent ban of Seven.

Seven is a strong cigarette and though it sells well throughout the Japanese, it is not a preferred brand in South Korea. While Japan places export bans towards the North, conversely North Korean authorities are also regulating Japanese goods. For this reason, North Korean citizens are smoking these cigarettes in secret.

As supply does not meet demand, the cost of Seven cigarettes has skyrocketed in the cities of Pyongyang and Nampo.

Nowadays, a packet of Seven’s in Pyongyang sells at around 40 Yuan (11,000 North Korean won, US$3.6). This is 7~8 times more expensive than the common North Korean brand of cigarettes “Cat.” Considering that a kilogram of rice costs 800 North Korean won (US$0.26) and the average monthly salary of a worker 3,000~4,000won (US$0.98~1.3), the price of Seven’s is phenomenal.

However, as supply continues to be depleted, rich merchants and powerful ministers face a difficult test.

Furthermore, the rich and former Korean residents of Japan are unable to taste the flavors of popular Japanese foods that they have become accustomed to such as soy sauce, bean paste and instant noodles for a long time. 


Comments are closed.