DPRK food prices rising

According to Bloomberg:

North Korean rice prices have quadrupled this year amid concern the regime is facing further economic isolation, according to a South Korean research report.

Rice prices jumped to as much as 2,200 North Korean won per kilogram during the first six months of the year from about 500 won at the end of 2010, South Korea’s state-run Korea Development Institute said today in an e-mailed statement. The difference was mostly caused by a slump in the domestic currency, which is a factor the government considers in setting the price, the report said.

North Korea’s won is not freely traded though the U.S. dollar is the de facto currency used in many markets.

South Korea in May last year cut off most trade with North Korea, accusing Kim Jong Il’s regime of torpedoing one of its warships in March that killed 46 sailors. The U.S. is assessing whether to provide food assistance to North Korea, which is also under United Nations sanctions for its nuclear tests.

The North Korean currency has weakened “sharply” since the regime shelled South Korea’s Yeonpyeong island in November amid concerns worsening relations will lead to further shortages of goods, the report said. North Korea has also increased coal exports to China to make up for the shortfall in trade with South Korea, causing energy shortages, it said.

While the regime lifted its ban on street markets that was placed at the end of 2009, high prices and goods shortages are preventing them from helping meet North Koreans’ needs, the report said.

Read the full story here:
North Korean Rice Prices Quadruple
Bloomberg
Bomi Lim
2010-7-5

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