Archive for the ‘Public Distribiution System (PDS)’ Category

UN WFP assistance to the DPRK falls in 2013

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

According to Yonhap:

North Korea received record-low food aid from the United Nations food agency in 2013 due to sluggish contributions from the international community, a media report said Wednesday.

Some 38,000 tons of food were delivered from the World Food Program (WFP) to the impoverished communist country in 2013, some 30 percent of the agency’s target for the year, according to the Washington-based Radio Free Asia (RFA).

It was less than half the amount sent in the previous year and the smallest since 1996 when the agency began helping the North, the report said, adding it was attributable to the WFP’s failure to raise enough funds to achieve the goal.

The amount of the U.N. agency’s food aid to the North has been fluctuating from some 136,000 tons in 2008, 50,000 tons in 2010, 100,000 tons in 2011 and 84,000 tons in 2012, according to WFP data.

Citing its dark fund-raising prospects in 2014, the WFP told the RFA that most of its factories for producing nutrition biscuits for the people there were on the verge of shutting down in February.

The daily food rations for the people in the North came to some 400 grams per person last year, far lower than the minimum recommended amount of 600 grams and the North Korean regime’s target amount of 573 grams, the WFP said.

North Korea’s food production is estimated to have been at about 5.03 million metric tons in 2013, up 5 percent from the previous year, according to the WFP report posted on its website.

The food security situation, however, is still serious, with 84 percent of all households having borderline or poor food consumption, it added.

The North’s leader Kim Jong-un put an emphasis on food production in his New Year’s message last week, saying “all efforts should go for agriculture … in order to build a strong economy and to improve the people’s livelihoods.”

Here is the UNFAO November 2013 food security assessment.

Here is additional analysis from Benjamin Silberstein.

Here are previous posts on “Food“, “Agriculture“, “International Aid“, “International Aid Statistics“.

Read the full story here:
WFP’s food aid to N. Korea hits all-time low in 2013
Yonhap
2014-1-8

Share

PDS distribution up in 2013

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

According to the Daily NK:

The volume of food distributed under the North Korean Public Distribution System in the first half of 2013 increased when compared to 2012, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported on the 6th.

According to North Korean submissions to the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the North Korean authorities provided 400g/day between January to May and 390g/day in June and July, a monthly average of 397g/day. This is a 14g increase on last year’s average of 383g/day.

According to the statistics, 66% of the total population of North Korea, around 16 million people, received state distribution of basic foodstuffs. Last year, 400g/day was achieved in April, the 100th anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth, but not in any other month.

Conversely, WFP reported that international food aid volumes to North Korea decreased in the first half of 2013. WFP began a new food aid operation for the country last month, but has since failed to reach half of its target support volume.

Last month, WFP supplied approximately 2900t of food to around 940,000 people, including more than 40,000 flood victims. This compares with 3400 tons of food to more than 1,310,000 people in the previous month.

Daily NK has reported on public food distribution on a number of occasions in 2013, noting in particular that the North Korean authorities distributed some stocks of rice ordinarily intended for wartime distribution.

Yonhap also covered the story.

Read the full article here:
PDS Distribution Volumes Rise in 2013
Daily NK
Jin Dong Hyuk
2013-8-7

Share

North Korea attempting to revive the food ration system

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2013-7-11

North Korea is attempting to restart its halted food distribution system. In March, military food provisions were released to the public and food distribution is reported to have resumed on a biweekly basis. The provision of food rations for more than three consecutive months is a rare occurrence.

A North Korean defector organization in South Korea, NK Intellectuals Solidarity, released the following information in their information briefing session: “From June 1, it was confirmed that residents in border cities and towns received food distribution every 15 days, about 470 grams per person a day.”

The foods distributed were mainly from Warehouse No. 2, stockpiled as military food provisions. It is unclear how long the food distribution will last but North Korea appears to be straining itself to revive the food distribution system in order to resolve the food shortage problem.

According to Radio Free Asia, the North Korean government has begun to reissue food stamps, with residents in North Hamgyong Province having confirmed recently the receipt of such stamps.

North Korean economic policy has focused mainly on the agricultural sector and food supply. There appears to be gradual improvement. The price of 1 kg of rice in January was about 6,600 KPW in Pyongyang and by June it dropped to 5,000 KPW. The price of rice is reported to have dropped in other cities such as Sinuiju and Haesan by as much as 1,000 KPW.

However, a South Korean official commented that the food distribution is not equal nationwide, as some regions are left without food rations. He added, “Unless North Korea is able to secure sufficient supply of food, it will be difficult to revive the food distribution system of the past.”

Meanwhile, some have testified that North Korea is leasing farm lands to urban workers in cooperative farms as a means to resolve the food crisis.

Citing an unnamed source in North Korea, NK Intellectuals Solidarity stated that “state-owned collective farm lands are being leased to city workers,” explaining this as a measure to overcome the current food situation as work in factories in the cities also has declined.

NK Intellectuals Solidarity explained that farm lands are being leased on an annual basis and workers in various state factories and enterprises are receiving about 250 pyong (826.4 square meters) of land per employee.

Employees must allocate a portion of their harvest to the state (100g of corn and 50g of beans per pyong (3.3 square meters) and the total yield of harvest will be counted as the total production output of the farm. The expectation is that this method of leasing land of cooperative farms will resolve the food shortages in the cities and improve the food supply of the entire nation.

Share

DPRK distributing grain / Rice price falls

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

According to the Daily NK:

Rice prices in North Korean markets have fallen dramatically after the authorities increased levels of food distribution in major urban areas like Pyongyang and Sinuiju, part of state policy of “normalizing” public distribution. Most people are undecided about the policy, but the reality is that grain has been provided by the state both last month and into this, and this is having an effect on market grain prices.

A Pyongyang source told Daily NK on the 21st, “There was five days of distribution in the first part of last month and ten days in the last part, then a further five days at the start of this month, so rice prices fell. The authorities are saying that they are going to give ten days of distribution per month until September, then normalize it completely after that.”

Ten days of distribution at North Korea’s own mandated levels means 4.5kg for workers and a further 2kg for dependent family members.

“When they first heard about [the policy of distribution normalization] they didn’t believe it, but after getting fifteen days distribution last month and another five days this, people are wondering whether this time it could be different,” the source said. “Even last month most people said ‘this will only last for this month,’ but now they have done it this month as well the number of expectant people is rising.”

The source also revealed data on the drop in market grain prices, saying that at one point the price of rice in Pyongyang had declined from 6500-7000won/kg, the approximate price point since the start of the year, to 4500won. “Although it has since climbed back up through the 5000won barrier, it is holding steady,” she added.

However, “From the middle part of April the price started slowly rising again,” she went on, conjecturing, “If distribution is achieved next month as well then it should stay below 6000won, perhaps even staying at around 4000-5000won.”

Aware that Pyongyang is a unique case in the North Korean context, Daily NK has also been checking conditions in other parts of the country, including along the Sino-North Korean border, and has learned that there has been distribution in the North Pyongan Province city of Sinuiju, the Yangkang Province city of Hyesan, and Heoiryeong and Chongjin in North Hamkyung Province, raising the possibility, which sources have echoed, that distribution is occurring nationwide. All the areas checked by Daily NK have also seen rice prices falling sharply thanks to the state distribution.

One Sinuiju-based source explained the situation there, saying, “As far as I know, the official policy of normalizing distribution is not just for our region but all other regions, too. They recently gave us ten days of rice here, so the price in the jangmadang (market) has fallen below 5000won.”

Sources report that between April 14 and 17 the price of rice has fallen to 5400won in Hyesan, 5100won in Hoiryeong, 5200won in Chongjin, and 5000won in Saebyeol County.

A source from Chongjin explained, “On or around April 10th it was selling for 4800won, but has since gone back over 5000won. They have given distribution but exchange rates are not falling, so if distribution ceases at any point, prices will have to rise again.” The same source noted, however, that in Hyesan prices fell, but when the authorities then stopped importing rice from China, they rose again, reaching 6400won. “Rumor has it that they will allow imports again,” the source noted, “but nobody knows when so prices remain high.”

Read the full story here:
Rice Prices Fall on State Distribution
Daily NK
Kim Yong Hun
2013-4-21

Share

Rumors of DPRK economic reforms continue

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

UPDATE 1 (2012-8-9): The Ministry of Unification is skeptical that the story below is true.

ORIGINAL POST (2012-8-8): Three good recent posts on economic changes in the DPRK can be found here, here, and here. They describe aspects of the recently discussed 6.28 policy as well as other economic events.

On August 8, Radio Free Asia published a story (in Korean) that claimed that economic changes will be much more “radical” than the “calibrarions” established under the 6.28 policy.

Fortunately, Chris Green translated the article and sent it to me:

North, Announces Discarding of Socialist Planned Economy
Moon Sung Hwee, RFA
2012-08-08

It has emerged that North Korea has officially introduced its ‘new economic management
system’ and announced the abandonment of the planned economy and public distribution.

However, free education and healthcare will remain untouched as the authorities assert that
the ‘new economic management system’ is not the same as ‘reform and opening’.

Moon Sung Hwee in Seoul has the story.

So far only mentioned in information from domestic South Korean government sources, the
shape of North Korea’s economic reform is finally emerging. The North Korean authorities
have officially promulgated the implementation of a ‘new economic management system’
to labor organizations, people’s units and individual factory enterprises, according to inside
sources.

One such source from Yangkang [Ryanggang] Province said, “Starting on August 6th, there have been
lecture meetings in every worker’s organization, people’s unit and factory enterprise about
the ‘new economic management system’. In these meetings, they have been describing the
concrete facts about the ‘new economic management system’ and its implementation.”

According to the source, lecturers have been dispatched from the Central Party to each worker’s organization to organize the lectures on the ‘new economic management system’, and explanatory documents have been sent to the regional Party arms for dissemination in meetings in individual factory enterprises and people’s units.

The source said that the basic contents of the ‘new economic management system’ are that the state will not set the plan or say what items are to be produced; individual enterprises will produce what they wish and decide for themselves the price and by what means production is to be sold, meaning that North Korea is discarding the planned economy that has been the cornerstone of its socialist system.

Notably, production equipment and materials, fuel and energy issues are to be dealt with not by the state but through deals done between factories and coal mines, power stations etc; however, individuals may not establish their own factory enterprises and enterprise Party cadres are to still be employed and made unemployed by the Chosun Workers’ Party.

A source from North Hamkyung Province claimed, “According to the ‘new economic management system’, production, sale, income and distribution are to be decided by the factory enterprises themselves. The only ones who are to continue receiving state distribution are state administrators, educators, medical sector workers; the distribution system for everyone else is to be scrapped.”

In the agricultural sector the ‘new economic management system’ is to be introduced this autumn, with production divided 70-30 in favor of the state according to the plan and any over-fulfillment also going to the agricultural workers.

In terms of timeframe, North Korea has simply said “from now”, but the source personally understood this to mean as soon as each factory enterprise is prepared, with each facing a different situation.

This deliberate vagueness may also be related to the fact that declaring a concrete start date would have incited inflation in the jangmadang, causing widespread side effects. Therefore, the authorities have tried to minimize internal conflict and ensure smooth implementation of the plan.

Meanwhile, according to sources, the reason why lecturers emphasized the continuation of free education and health care was to point up the fact that the ‘new economic management system’ does not mean ‘reform and opening’ as suggested by the imperialist powers; rather, it means ‘our style socialist economic policy’.

The Korea Herald also reported on this story.

In the field of agriculture, the policy changes announced in this story are consistent with the announcements made in regards to the 6.28 policy.

The claim that the state is giving up its role as economic planner, however, is certainly more radical than anything that has been announced before. On the surface it seems implausible that the Kim Jong-un regime, which is doing its best to remind the people of the “good old days” under Kim Il-sung, would scrap the economic model associated with the Great Leader. Additionally, the leadership would have to manage the transition costs of leveraged party cadres and cabinet technocrats who are responsible for the creation and enforcement of economic policies. Finally, since when has Pyongyang ever voluntarily given up authority to local and regional actors?

But maybe these costs are no so large?  Maybe there are enough key North Koreans today who are happy to leave the Stalinist Kim Il-sung economy in the history books? After all, most up-and-coming cadres today will have been born after the “arduous march” and will have no first-hand memories of the Kim Il-sung era. Additionally, maybe the party cadres and bureaucrats who are responsible for economic policies are the very individuals who benefit from from the black- and grey-market activities that keep the official economy afloat? It is plausible (and I believe likely) that the black/unofficial market  in the DPRK is larger (in value terms and numbers of employees) than the official economy. If this is the case, then ending the planning bureaucracy does not necessarily mean their incomes will disappear or even shrink.

Anyway, I am not sure what to make of any of these stories and since I am not in the prediction game, that is fine with me.  As always, I look forward to seeing what the North Koreans are going to do with themselves.

Share

DPRK cuts official food rations

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

According to the Daily NK:

World Food Programme reports during the month of July, North Koreans received only half the amount of recommended food, rations have been reduced down to half what they should be 300 grams per day.

Between drought and flood damage, crops have suffered and the distribution system is failing to meet the needs of the people.

Due to unrelenting poor weather condition this past July, North Korean food rations per person, already at the minimum recommended amount, were cut in half.

United Nations affiliated organization, the World Food Programme (WFP) recorded that from July 1st until the 15th, food distribution in North Korea was 370 grams per person per day, but during the second half of the month rations were reduced to a mere 300 grams, revealed a Voice of America broadcast two days ago. The World Food Programme puts the recommended amount of food per day at 600 grams minimum.

According to a North Korean based-WFP local official, rations consist of 20-30% rice and 70-80% corn. During the summer, barley, potatoes, wheat and other crops are included in the distribution.

From January until March, rations were maintained at 395 grams per person, and in April they were increased to 400 grams. In May, rations were reverted back to 395 grams and June again saw a slump, down to 380 grams per person.

The WFP attributes the decline in rations to various natural disasters, such as drought and flooding have led to extensive damage of cropland across North Korea.

The WFP estimates these ration shortages will continue to be severe until harvest time arrives in November.

The flip side of this story is that North Koreans obtain the majority of their food from private and black markets.

The Daily NK tracks rice prices in the DPRK here.

Read the full story here:
WFP Reports July Rations Cut in Half at NK
Daily NK
Kim Tae-hong
2012-8-2

Share

Food distribution unchanged in April

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

According to the Daily NK:

The World Food Programme (WFP) has revealed that food distribution by the North Korean authorities in April, the month of Kim Il Sung’s centennial birthday, was on the same scale as in the month before.

According to Radio Free Asia (RFA) yesterday, WFP believes that food distribution to the North Korean people this past April was 400g per day, which is 66% of the 600g per day recommended intake.

Nana Skau, the WFP’s North Korea spokesperson explained, “The food distributed by the North Korean authorities was a mix of rice and corn, and depending on the region the mix was either at 2:8 or 3:7.”

She went on, “In April there were many celebrations including Kim Il Sung’s 100th birthday so a lot of public institutions were either closed or distribution from them went down. The reason why our 83 cases of food distribution in 22 counties was one third of the previous month’s total of 220 cases in 59 counties was also because there were many public holidays.”

Meanwhile, WFP has revealed that aid is still entering the country, announcing that “In April 98.5 tons of food arrived in North Korea and in May 2,700 tons of mostly beans and powdered milk is expected to be sent there.”

Read the full story here:
Food Distribution Unmoved by April
Daily NK
Hwang Chang Hyun
2012-05-08

Share

Lankov on the evolution of personal income in the DPRK

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Andrei Lankov writes on the history and evolution of personal income in the DPRK. According to his article in the Asia Times:

When one talks about virtually any country, wages and salaries are one of the most important things to be considered. How much does a clerk or a doctor, a builder or a shopkeeper earn there? What is their survival income, and above what level can a person be considered rich?

Such questions are pertinent to impoverished North Korea, but this is the Hermit Kingdom, so answering such seemingly simple questions creates a whole host of problems.

We could look first at official salaries but this is not easy since statistics on this are never published in North Korea. Nonetheless, it is known from reports of foreign visitors and sojourners that in the 1970s and 1980s, most North Koreans earned between 50 to 100 won per month, with 70 won being the average salary.

Read more below…
(more…)

Share

North Korea redefines ‘minimum’ wage

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Andrei Lankov writes in the Asia Times:

When one talks about virtually any country, wages and salaries are one of the most important things to be considered. How much does a clerk or a doctor, a builder or a shopkeeper earn there? What is their survival income, and above what level can a person be considered rich?

Such questions are pertinent to impoverished North Korea, but this is the Hermit Kingdom, so answering such seemingly simple questions creates a whole host of problems.

Read the full story below:

(more…)

Share

KWP forms 4.15 gift preparation committees

Monday, March 5th, 2012

According to the Daily NK:

The North Korean authorities have ordered the formation of ‘Day of the Sun Gift Preparation Committees’ at the provincial Party level and subordinate ‘Day of the Sun Gift Subcommittees’ at the city and county scale, Daily NK has learned.

A Yangkang [Ryanggang] Province source who spoke with Daily NK on the 6th explained, “The ‘Day of the Sun Gift Preparation Committee’ was formed at the start of this month by the provincial Party Committee to prepare for the Suryeong’s birthday, and groups of areas were banded together to form the ‘Day of the Sun Gift Subcommittees’.”

“There was no distribution for February 16th,” the source recalled. “Possibly because the central Party received reports of popular discontent about this and asked some searching questions of provincial cadres, now they are running around trying to get ready for April 15th holiday distribution.”

“Enterprise traders are mostly bringing in soy bean oil, soap and towels via Chinese customs. They are printing ‘Day of the Sun 100th Anniversary’ on the towels,” he added.

The formation of the committees has also reportedly had a noticeable influence on levels of public expectation of the April 15th festivities, representing as it does the first time that ‘Gift Preparation Committees’ have been formed since they disappeared without a trace in the mid 1990s.

“They are already saying that each household is going to receive a huge gift for this Day of the Sun, so people are really expecting a lot,” the source said, adding, “The rumor among jangmadang traders is that every house is going to get a DVD player made by Hana Electronics in Pyongyang.”

As the source noted, the move comes following significant public discontent at the lack of gifts on February 16th (Kim Jong Il’s birthday).

On February 21st, Daily NK reported new of that discontent, citing a Yangkang Province source as saying, “There was a flood of criticism about the total lack of holiday distribution for Gwangmyungsung Day, so they began telling every organ, enterprise and people’s unit meeting, ‘That is because we are close to the 100th anniversary of the Suryeong’s birth, and the Party is preparing big gifts for that.’”

North Korea began giving snacks, rice and other foodstuffs to the people every year on the birthdays of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, along with things like school uniforms and blankets every 5th and 10th year, in the 1970s. However, the system ceased to function in the 1990s as the country was gripped by famine and economic disintegration.

Meanwhile, sources also report that with the arrival of the early spring lean season, a time when many people on the Korean Peninsula have traditionally struggled to find sufficient sustenance, prices in the market are beginning to creep up.

According to the Yangkang Province source, “Until late last week the Yuan price was 607 won, but now it is up to 635 won. The price of rice has also gone from 3,300 won to 3,800 won.”

Read the full story here:
North Forms Party 4.15 ‘Gift Preparation Committees’
Daily NK
Lee Seok Young
2012-3-5

Share