Archive for the ‘Cosmetics’ Category

No More Old-fashioned Chinese Stuff. We like South Korean Culture

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Daily NK
Moon Sung Hwee

A source inside North Korea reported on November 5th that the North Korean Ministry of Education lately directed every school to stress the importance of the Korean language education and to encourage the use of the mother tongue.

In a phone interview with DailyNK, the source said, “At workplace, there are those who read out to the workers a handbook titled ‘Let’s maintain our superior morals and actively promote the use of our mother tongue!’”

In the March 2007 edition of “Learning Culture & Language,” Jong Soon Ki, the most well-known linguist in North Korea and a professor at the Institute of Linguistics of Social Science Center, urged the public to stop admiring English and Chinese language, saying, “The difference of our mother tongue between North and South Korea has been getting larger since the division of Korean.”

The source said that the North Korean authorities started to place high importance on the native tongue in an attempt to stop the surge in the use of the Chinese and foreign languages which have been spread to the country through the circulation of South Korean soap operas since 2000.

After the food crisis in the mid-1990s, the number of defectors, border traders, and Chinese businessmen investing in North Korea have increased, which helped the Chinese culture spread into the country. Many young North Korean began to display interest in Chinese movies, Chinese products and the Chinese language. It became popular among them to read out the brand names of Chinese products in Chinese.

In North Korea, people use the Chinese words “yaoyunji (搖運機)” or “yaoyun (搖運)” for a remote control. They do not use its Korean name “wonkyuk-jojonggi,” translated and adopted by the North Korean authorities.

As for a cell phone, people use its Chinese name “Dakeda (大可大)” or “Souji (手機)” rather than its North Korean name “Sonjeonhwa (literally meaning a handphone).” Blue jeans are called “Niuzaiku,” in the border areas, a refrigerator is called its Chinese name “Bingxiang (冰箱)” and VCD “Woicidie.” Indeed, many products or medical supplies are called their Chinese names such as “Kouhong” for a lipstick.

The use of foreign languages has become more prevalent across the country especially since 2003 when the frenzy over Chinese culture was replaced by its South Korean counterpart. It is particularly noticeable that North Korean people no longer call South Korea “South Chosun” as they used to but call it “Hankuk (meaning the Republic of Korea).” In these days, the young people in Pyongyang look down on those who still use the old name, “South Chosun.”

The source said, “South Korean culture is taking over the Chinese one, and the demand for the South Korean films and products is increasing. People learn new words from South Korean soap operas and these words are becoming popular.”
The source added, “I guess this is because South Korea is better off than China, and people have a sense of homogeneity towards South Korean people.”

“Nowadays, when people go to restaurants, they do not use the words “siksa annae” or “siksa pyo,” a Korean name for a menu. Instead, many people just call it “menu” as it is pronounced in English and widely called so in South Korea,” said the source.

The source continued, “We can see how rapidly the South Korean culture has spread into the country by the fact that many people no longer use the Chinese name for a cell phone, Shouji (手機) and instead use the name ‘Hyudaephone’ as it is called in South Korea.” The source said, “At Jangmadang (markets), people casually say the names of South Korean products as they are such as “Cuckoo (rice cooker)” or “Color TV.”

When asked about the popular words adopted from South Korean culture, he listed following words: “diet,” “wellbeing,” “music video,” “sausage,” “single,” “wife,” “dress,” “pop song,” and “fast food.” (See that all of them are English words. In South Korea, people use many English words like the one listed here in everyday life)

32-year old Kim Kyung Wuk (pseudonym), who defected from Kyungsung county of North Hamkyung Province and recently came to South, also confirmed this phenomenon.

Kim said, “In the past when people feel distressed, they expressed their feeling using the word, ‘uljukhada’. But now many young people use the words ‘jajeong’ or ‘stress’ as South Korean people do.” Kim added, “The North Korean people did not know the word ‘stress’ when they first heard it from South Korean movies they watched only three years ago. But now even the old people know the new word.”

Many defectors say that many new words adopted from South Korean TV dramas are being spread into the country especially among the young people such as “miss-Korea (a beautiful woman),” “show (fake),” “ssonda (I will treat you),” “hwakeun (passionate),” “single” and “wife.”

Kim said, “Those who watch South Korean dramas and listen to its music take a great interest in everyday language of the South, and try to adopt it as long as they could escape the state’s regulation.”

Defectors said that the current phenomenon illustrates that North Korean people admire the South Korea and greatly hope for reforms and open-door policy.

Lee Chul Min, the operating manager at the Association of the North Korean defectors said, “For those who live in a closed society, exposure to foreign cultures can be a really fresh experience. It is natural of them to admire more advanced societies and cultures.” Lee added, “The current frenzy over South Korean culture will help bring a change into North Korea and overcome the differences between two Koreas.”


A Footage of North Korean Jangmadang Captured by Asahi TV

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

Daily NK
Yang Jung A

The Asahi TV of Japan broadcasted in the evening of October 9th recent video footage of the market which is thriving across the North Korea. The released footage was filmed by an underground journalist, Lee Jun who operates in North Korea.

The footage captures the scenes of local people’s making transactions at the markets in Pyongyang, Chongjin, and Hamheung

Filmed last August, the scene from the Sungyo market in Pyongyang with its bustling crowd was distinguishable from the markets in the other parts of the country. Many different kinds of goods were available at the market.

Women’s dresses being sold at the market were trimmed with lace, and had floral design in splendid color. There were also clothed mannequins with heart-shaped price tags. If customers wanted to try on clothes, they could do so on the scene.

Storekeepers at grocery stores were wearing an apron, trying to keep their store clean and tidy.

Some female peddlers were engaging themselves in business at places other than the markets permitted by the state such as bus stations where there were many people. Among the peddlers were those wearing the badge of Kim Il Sung. Around parks or high-class apartments, there appeared small-scale markets where people could buy fruit such as apples or watermelons or some snack like doughnuts.

A 35-year old defector, Han Young Ju who had lived in Pyongyang until 2003 said, “The ordinary people frequently visit the Sungyo market. Judging from the video footage, I could see that the market became more crowded as the number of people engaged in business without permission has increased.”

“Back in 2003, the market was very clean because there were managers who kept the place in order and regularly directed cleanup activity. But, now, the place seems to be out of control because too many people are gathering around the market to do business,” the defector said, adding, “As I look at the types of clothes or shoes these people are wearing, I think the living conditions are worse off than before.”

Jiro Ishimaru, the chief editor of Asia Press International, said in his interview with Asahi TV, “We can see that the market economy is developing in Pyongyang.” The chief editor proceeded, “Nowadays, the North Korean people engage themselves in economical activities in order to improve their standard of living.”

The chief editor added, “For the past ten years, the market economy has been spreading into North Korea. And its power has been reshaping the country to the point that the state authorities cannot stop it.”

A market in Chongjin of North Hamkyung province did not look as vigorous as did the Sungyu market in Pyongyang. People in the market in Chongjin are wearing shabby cloth if compared to their counterparts in Pyongyang. Some women engaged in business at the market were notable with their baseball caps with visor.

There were many Kotjebi (street children) roaming around the markets in the Hamheung areas.

The footage featured a scene where the cameraman spoke with a homeless family. They were picking up usable stuff in a dumpster adjacent to the market. Lately, the number of families who were driven out of their homes into the street because of debt has been rising in the county.

The footage also showed a Kotjebi singing and begging for money, and an old man lying down in front of the railroad station but later being pulled along by a superintendent. Jiro Ishimaru explained about the rising of homeless families, saying, “It seems that we are observing ‘bankruptcy,’ one of many phenomena under capitalism occurring in North Korea.”


North Korea on Google Earth

Saturday, October 6th, 2007

Version 5: Download it here (on Google Earth) 

This map covers North Korea’s agriculture, aviation, cultural locations, manufacturing facilities, railroad, energy infrastructure, politics, sports venues, military establishments, religious facilities, leisure destinations, and national parks. It is continually expanding and undergoing revisions. This is the fifth version.

Additions to the latest version of “North Korea Uncovered” include updates to new Google Earth overlays of Sinchon, UNESCO sites, Railroads, canals, and the DMZ, in addition to Kim Jong Suk college of eduation (Hyesan), a huge expansion of the electricity grid (with a little help from Martyn Williams) plus a few more parks, antiaircraft sites, dams, mines, canals, etc.

Disclaimer: I cannot vouch for the authenticity of many locations since I have not seen or been to them, but great efforts have been made to check for authenticity. These efforts include pouring over books, maps, conducting interviews, and keeping up with other peoples’ discoveries. In many cases, I have posted sources, though not for all. This is a thorough compilation of lots of material, but I will leave it up to the reader to make up their own minds as to what they see. I cannot catch everything and I welcome contributions.

I hope this map will increase interest in North Korea. There is still plenty more to learn, and I look forward to receiving your additions to this project.


Summit Reveals Fashionable Pyongyang

Friday, October 5th, 2007

Korea Times
Kim Tong-hyung

It will be quite a long time before Pyongyang earns its stripes as a hip and happening city if it ever does. But, judging by the glimpses revealed during the three-day summit, it seems that not all is gray and grim in the North Korean capital.

First lady Kwon Yang-suk and other South Korean officials ran into a room full of headsets Wednesday at Pyongyang’s Grand People’s Study Hall as students managed to keep a straight face scribbling down English conversations played on tape.

“Repeating is the best,” said a North Korean student when asked what is the secret to learning English, providing no relief to his peers in the South who hear the same thing until their eardrums wear out.

Perhaps improving cooperation between the two Koreas will do little to better the foreign language skills of students from either side of the border who grab English books with the same enthusiasm as a kid force-fed vegetables.

However, it seems clear that Pyongyang’s youngsters of today are more concerned about internationalization than they appeared in the first inter-Korean summit seven years ago.

South Korean delegates went on to tour the Kim Chaek University of Technology where they found students, mostly studying English, searching for video files and text stored in computers.

The university’s library has 420 desktop computers, 2 million books and more than 10 million electronics books that can be accessed via a local area network (LAN) connection or from telephone modems at home.

North Korean officials were eager to show their elite students studying English to South Korean authorities, quiet a surprise from a country dominated by the “Juche,” or self-reliance, ideology.

And at least on the educational front, it seems that computers are becoming a part of everyday life for Pyongyang’s younger generation, although they are far behind their tech-savvy southern neighbors who have television on their cell phones.

Not every picture of change in Pyongyang was staged. South Korean correspondents have sent photos of young North Korean women gliding through the streets in clothes that seemed to be ripped from Vogue magazine. Some even had heavy mascara that would qualify them for a Johnny Depp pirate movie.

Bright colors of yellow and pink were easily seen among the women waving their hands to the limousine convoy of South Korean delegates upon their Pyongyang arrival.

Surely, North Korean fusionists have come a long way since their universally pale makeup and grayish attire seen by South Korean reporters during the 2000 summit.

Even North Korean government officials involved in the formal talks looked a little more contemporary than last remembered, with many of them suited up in tailor-cut, three-button suits.

The security officials looked better too. Gone were the bodyguards with big hats, khaki uniforms and oversized gun holsters who flocked around former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung back in the first talks.

Instead, North Korean bodyguards today were dressed in black suits and moved with a hand on their earpieces, making them hardly distinguishable them from their South Korean counterparts.


South Korean Products Popular

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

Daily NK
Han Young Jin

Distribution with “Korea” Trademark…”Rice Cookers Popular”

In the North Korean jangmadang (market), South Korean products are drawing huge popularity among citizens and are publicly being sold, relayed an internal source on the 30th.

The source said, “In the Pyongyang, Shinuiju, Hamheung, Chungjin, and other large-scale jangmadangs, South Korean products with the “Made in Korea” label is fairly popular among wealthy people.”

In the past, South Korean products were secretly sold in the North Korean market. When selling South Korean products, we sold them after removing the product label, “Made in Korea.” However, recently, only products with the label are recognized as South Korean products of good quality and sold at a high price.

The source added, “‘Made in Korea’ lends credibility to the people. Without this, people do not believe that the product is a Korean-made good. The label has to be there because Chinese products are disguised as South Korean goods.”

The South Korean product which is most sold in North Korea is the electric rice-cooker (Cuckoo), instantaneous water heaters, cosmetics, aromatics, computers, toothpaste, medical goods and a variety of sweets. Also, North Korean citizens have a lot of confidence in South Korean medicine. South Korean-made medicine or sweets are not discarded even after the expiration date.

He said, “Because Chinese-made products are no good, people who have money usually used Japanese products. In the place where Japanese products became rare, Korean-made products are now occupying that place.”

In Dandong, China, Kim Chi Duk (pseudonym), who is engaging in North Korea-Chinese trade met with the reporter and retorted, “Currently in Chosun (North Korea), Japanese-made products are still counted as number 1. Then there are South Korean-made products, then Chinese-made products. Poor people, even when the quality is lower, use Chinese-made products and those with money use South Korean products or Japanese-made products. What is the issue if one is buying with his or her money?”

He said, “Those with some amount of money use at least one or two South Korean products.”

The source relayed, “Currently in the Shinuiju market, South Korean toothpaste is 5,000 won (USD1.85), 1 set of aromatics (machinery and 2 bottles of gas) is 30,000 won (USD11.1), and one pack of Time cigarettes (tax-exempt) 3,000 won.” However, “Time,” a kind of South Korean cigarettes are counterfeit goods made in China, so is offered at a cheaper price than their domestic price.

Mr. Kim said, “Those who trade in North Korea request for South Korean-made goods, but I do not know whether they plan to export them or to use them. The authorities do not allow American-made goods, but is there anyone who doesn’t like the dollar? If it is not a big issue, they use everything.”


More DPRK market (jangmadang) footage

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

shoes.JPGAgain, while trapsing through the jungle of YouTube videos on North Korea, I stumbled on this clip shown on Japanese television which was secretly recorded in a North Korean market.  Since my Japanese ranges from rusty to nonexistent, I do not know where it is.

What does this clip teach us?  That some North Koreans are becomming more sophisticated shoppers/ consumers–looking to the outside world to get a sense of what’s fashionable.  Chinese entrepreneurs are hard at work building brand loyalty for western companies that are not yet aiming for the DPRK market.  Chinese knockoffs of Nike, the North Face (mislabeled “the Nice Face”), and fake designer apparel are all on display.  I imagine no North Korean citizen expects to ever see these goods in the local Public Distribution Office. 

Japanese narration highlights (thanks, Tony):

  • Are the North Koreans familiar with these western brands? Some are familiar and others are not so sophisticated.
  • These items sell really fast.  You can buy a Rolex Watch (knock off) for 800 Yen (appx. $8 or appx 2,400 North Korean Won).
  • The narrator contrasts lifestyles.  He compares shoppers that can afford these market goods with others in the same village who cannot.

Illegal Prostitution Occurring in Massage Parlors and Bathhouses

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

Daily NK
Han Young Jin

Defector Choi Young Lim [pseudonym] who entered South Korea this past January was a “broker” in North Korea who would receive money from defectors and deliver it to family members in North Korea. He was exposed while mediating money and arrested but was released after giving bribes.

Choi said, “Previously, even with just evidence that there was a connection to a South Korean, you were dragged to a political prison camp and your family members were exiled. However nowadays, even if it is exposed that a defector who entered South Korea sent money, the family members aren’t severely punished.”

“These days, even if there is evidence that you received wired money, unless there is hard evidence of ties to the National Intelligence Service in South Korea the national security agents just impose a fine and release you,” he said.

According to Choi the fine is around the range of USD $2000.

Most of the foreign currency that enters North Korea these days is done through wired transfers from defectors in South Korea to family members. The money that Korean defectors send to family in the North undergoes a 20-30% processing fee and is finally delivered to the individual. The process is from the defector in South Korea through Chinese exchange broker to North Korean broker.

If USD $100 is sent from South Korea, the brokers share $30 and the remaining $70 is delivered to the family.

Until the mid-1990s, regardless of reason, North Korean authorities would take any monetary matter related to South Korea and punish them as “spies”. However, as the number of defectors concentrated in the North and South of Hamkyung increased after the food crisis, a uniform punishment became difficult to impose.

Choi said, “Even the National Security Agency doesn’t consider receiving money from family in South Korea as a spy activity. If they punish everyone, there is a side effect that even their own personal connections will be made adversaries. Thus, they can’t touch this issue.”

The emergence of taxis targeting large city wealthy classes

Trader Hwang Sang Do [pseudonym] who had traveled Chongjin, Hamheung and Shinuiju to collect trade items to export to China entered the South Korea this March.

Hwang introduced a variety of daily activity that he experienced in North Korea. “Even in Hamheung and Chongjin, taxis are operated. The base fare is around 3,000 won. Some cars have the mark that says, ‘taxi’ but some operate as passenger cars without such marks,” he said.

In the North Korean black market 1kg of gasoline (North Korea ordinarily uses kg) costs around 2,000 won. Hwang says, “There are drivers who solicit customers in front of the Chongjin Station or Hamheung Square Station. There aren’t many customers so when veering outside of central city, they receive the round trip fare.” The customers are mainly trade workers, overseas Chinese emigrants or the wealthy class.

It is known that taxi drivers refurbish used taxis or passengers cars that come in from China, then register it as an institution or business entity and start business activity. As there was an order earlier this year to remove all Japanese cars within 3 years, most of the cars that are on the street are manufactured in China.

Massage Parlors, Skincare Salons – Prostitution Secretly Going On

In large cities of North Korea, motels, massage parlors and skincare salons have been established and prostitution has been going on secretly.

Trade worker Hwang says, “There has been an increase of places in Hamheung motels that also function as saunas or skincare salons. A Chinese style massage at a massage parlor is 10,000 won (around US$3.4) per 60 minutes and there is instantaneous prostitution with female masseuse.” It is told that prostitution goes on for about 20,000 – 30,000 won.

With North Korean bathhouses, a service culture to put women at the forefront has taken place. The owners here use jargons such as “selling a bed” or “selling flowers” to feel out a customer’s intention for prostitution. There are cases where women find private homes to prostitute themselves. Hwang says that because it is easy to make money through prostitution, there has been an increase of female prostitutes.

Previously, if prostitution was exposed, you would be sentenced to forced labor. Even now, the authorities ban prostitution. However, the reality is that related entities have secretly been increasing.

On the other hand, there have been several luxury restaurants that opened in Wonsan and Hamheung. These places have implemented the Chinese service system, so the interior facilities are luxurious and female employees greet customers with a “Welcome” at the door.

Previously, only overseas Chinese emigrants or Chinese businessmen invested in such restaurants but recently, there are many cases where North Korean residents open large restaurants as well. Hwang says that as the Chinese restaurant culture that competes with taste and service infiltrated North Korea, North Korea has been undergoing a huge transformation to gain customers through service.

A service concept to “treat the customer as a king” has been emerging different from 1990s.


North Korean women, A Colourful Look in Fashion

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

Daily NK
Kim Min Se

It has been reported, colourful clothes and accessories such as gold rings are current hot trend among North Korean women, unlike their conservative dressing ritual in the past.

This transformation has been clearly revealed by Daily NK’s recent encounter with North Korea-China traders and their main importing goods for North Korea.

On the 18th, Choi Myong Hee (pseudonym), who has been trading the indispensable from Dandong, China, to North Korea, talked about this new trend in North Korea as meeting one of our reporters at some place in downtown Dandong.

Choi said “Recently white-based yellow and red floral prints have been going very well” “And also animal prints with puppies or ducks have been good,too. On the other hand, human-figured prints have not been doing well”

According to Choi, colourful looks have been the latest mode among North Korean women in big cities like Pyongyang. In particular, accessories have been a big trend.

Currently, Choi has been selling light industry goods such as clothing. However, it is accessory trading she has made a sizable profit nowadays. The accessories she has bought in Shenyang or Dalian, China at 5~8 Yuan (US$ 0.6~1) have been sold at 10~15 Yuan (US$ 1.3~2 ) in department stores and markets in Pyongyang.

Choi admitted “Accessory trading requires less cost and makes greater profit. Especially, I have never had a problem transporting them because of their efficient size.” we were told, she normally imports 10,000 various kinds of accessories to North Korea, mainly necklace and hair clips, and her major clienteles are women in Pyongyang.

Choi declared that necklaces, rings and hair clips have become common accessories for most of North Korean women. In fact, she has been trading accessories quite a few times on the sly.

“Still, necklaces and bracelets with religious symbols such as a cross or charms are prohibited” she remarked. In addition “Too much dazzling or abnormal looking necklaces are also forbidden.. So, it is crucial to import most favored design and colour.”

It is considered this radical change of North Korean women has resulted from increasing flexibility of the population because of the stimulated market as trading has been the only way to provide maintenance due to the fall of rationing system.

Besides, the influence from Chinese accessory fashion is observed to be one of the major factors as growing numbers of North Koreans have been visiting China.

Moreover, this changing trend of North Korean women, who have begun to dress up with colourful clothes and accessories, is perceived as a reflection on women’s natural desire, admiration on beauty.


Plastic Surgery Popular, Breast Augmentations a Trend

Tuesday, June 12th, 2007

Daily NK
Kim Young Jin

Recently, it has been reported that businesses in charge of facial plastic surgery and skin maintenance are becoming more popular among the wealthy class.

Through a survey DailyNK conducted on actual living conditions in the Northeast region of North Korea, it was discovered that massage rooms, steam baths, beauty-related enterprises (plastic surgery and skincare maintenance) are the main thriving businesses.

Beauty-related businesses such as these prevail in relatively large-sized cities, such as Chongjin in North Hamkyung, Hamheung in South Hamkyung, and Wonsan in Kangwon. This trend seems to follow the up and coming wealthy class who have risen through doing business in North Korea.

Skin maintenance and plastic surgery which has caused a stir among the women in Shinuiju and Pyongyang have spread to inland countrysides within the last several years.

Double eye-lid surgery, eyebrow tattoos, and others can be simply performed by a plastic surgeon doctor or beauty operation specialists, so it has been widely popular among young women.

The cost of plastic surgery, in the case of double eye-lid surgery, was 500 North Korean won per one-eye in 2004, but the asking price has been 1,500 won since 2006. The North Korean exchange rate was recently 2,980 won per dollar.

In addition to double eye-lid surgery, breast augmentation has been spreading to a portion of upper-class women. The popularity of the breast enlargement surgeries demonstrates an encouragement of beauty among North Korean upper-class women.

◆ “Massages” a rage, centered on large-scale cities = Chinese-style health massages cost around 10,000 (US$3.4) North Korean won per hour and for an additional 2~30,000 won, on-the-spot sex with a female masseuse is possible.

This survey, based on the latter half of May, took place by focusing on the price of commodities in five cities, such as Kim Chaek and Chongjin City in North Hamkyung, Danchun and Hamheung in South Hamkyung, and Wonsan Kangwon.

The results of the survey showed that the region with the highest standard of living in the Northeast region is Wonsan City of Kangwon. The reason why Wonsan has a relatively high standard of living is that it has been a central place of trade with Japan.

If North Korea and China’s trade can be represented by Shinuiju, then Wonsan has played that role with trade with Japan. However, it has recently been severely targeted by the suspension in North Korea and Japan’s trade.

Wonsan’s upper-class restaurants are known to show aggressive service by shouting “Welcome” when guests come in, by decorating the interior of restaurants, and by adopting a Chinese-style waiter and waitress system.

In addition, Japanese secondhand goods have been highly traded in Wonsan. Electronic rice cookers, sewing machine, fans, TVs and other Japanese thrift goods are commonly traded and have more reasonable prices than the other regions.

Newly released 2-3 person electronic rice cookers are around 13~150,000 won, fans around 7~80,000 won, used gas stoves around 15~200,000 (approx. US$50.34~67.10), used TVs around 20~250,000 won, and flat-screen TVs over 350,000 (approx. US$117.50) won.

The supply of electricity is not an issue, so it is provided 24 hours long and electricity is better-supplied than in Hamheung.

Further, the “105 factory (furniture production factory)” in Wonsan produces furniture which is delivered to the Central Party and the quality, compared with the cost, is supposed to be the best in North Korea.

Industrial goods in Chungjin are relatively economical, but Chinese-made color TVs and flat-screen newly-released TVs are sold for 20~250,000 and 350,000 won, respectively. Used bicycles imported from Japan is sold for 10~150,000 won.

In Chongjin, the number of taxis have risen lately, but because of the expensive cost, not too many people take advantage of it. Going 4km costs around 5,000 won. Taxis that are operating are either Chinese used taxis or imported cars which are past the expiration date.

◆ The price of rice narrowly rises = In Hamheung, the cost of taxis is supposed to be slightly higher than Chongjin. There are not too many people who ride taxis, so the rate is doubled beyond the center of cities and in remote places.

The cost of penicillin has risen significantly in Chongjin, with the spread of the measles, the scarlet fever, and other infectious diseases since last winter. Chinese penicillin is hard to acquire due to its reputation for having poor quality and North Korean penicillin is sold at Jangmadang (market) for 500 won per one.

The cities considered to have low standards of living are Kim Chaek of North Hamkyung and Danchun in South Hamkyung. The size of the jangmadang (market) is smaller than in other regions and there is a limit in the variety of goods. Steam baths or massage places do not even exist. The price of medical goods are also supposed to be exorbitant.

The specialty of Kim Chaek City is its low cost of nails. The Sungjin Steel Works Complex in Kim Chaek produces nail by melting steel and sells them, which is sold for 2,200 won~2,500 won per kg in Hoiryeong, at 1,200 won in Kim Chaek. However, not only is the weight heavy and is difficult to package, but the usage by civilians is not very high, so the incidence of sale to other provinces is low.

In Danchun, the price of fruit is very expensive, so it is not sold by the kilogram unit, but is sold individually. One medium-size apple is sold for up to 800 won.

On one hand, the price of rice in North Korea’s northeast region showed a narrow upward tendency in the latter half of May at the end of the spring shortage season. Corn, the staple of low-income civilians, did not show a huge change.


Pomhyanggi” Cosmetic Exhibition Opened to Public

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007


The “Pomhyanggi” Cosmetic Exhibition has been newly built in Moranbong District of Pyongyang.

It is a show of quality cosmetics produced in the Sinuiju Cosmetic Factory and a research center for developing new products and establishing scientific method of their application.

It operates a consultation room and gives such services as explanation, sale, medicinal sauna, massage and facial treatment. The consultation room diagnoses skins, health and constitutions of the customers and introduces relevant cosmetics to them at their request.

The explanation room explains the peculiarities and effectiveness of “Pomhyanggi” Cosmetics (3 pieces, 7 pieces, 8 pieces).

Kwon Mun Gap, senior official of the exhibition, said in an interview with KCNA that “Pomhyanggi” cosmetic research team has developed the quality cosmetics not by the chemical method but by the method of combining over 30 kinds of natural medicinal materials with Kaesong Koryo Insam.

“Pomhyanggi” cosmetics are the refined and developed ones of the famous “Nowana”, “Meari” and “Kumgangsan” cosmetics.