Rice bought, sought at markets in N. Korea: source


North Korean authorities have scaled back their country’s food rationing system and allowed rice to be bought and sold at open markets in major cities, sources here said Tuesday.

In July 2002, the communist country reduced food rationing and introduced an economic reform program under which wages were raised and farmers’ markets were expanded so that people could buy food. But the policy has zigzagged on the purchase and sale of cereals and rice. 

“Since last year, rumors have spread about the sale at state-run stores as the food rationing system did not function well. Currently, not only corn but also rice is being traded at the markets,” a government source said, asking to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The source added that North Korean authorities permitted the sale of imported rice at state-run stores. “The authorities hope to clamp down on high rice prices at black markets by diversifying the sources of rice distribution,” the source said. On the North’s black market, the product costs about 20 times more than rice at state-run stores. 


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