The Price of Cabbage in North Korea Is Prohibitive

Daily NK
Lee Sung Jin

South Korean housewives are afraid to open their wallets due to the threefold increase in the price of cabbage and radish compared to last year with the kimchi preparation season ahead. The skyrocketed price of cabbage in North Korea has also caused concerns about disturbance to the kimjang (kimchi preparation) season.

Lee Ok Ran (45), who trades in Hoiryeong, relayed in a phone conversation with DailyNK on the 25th, “Due to the flood damage and the delayed seedtime, the amount of the cabbage harvest has decreased significantly. In the middle of October, we have to enter the kimjang season, but are worried because the price of cabbage has risen exorbitantly. The saying that the price of cabbage is like the price of gold seems fitting now.”

Ms. Lee said, “Large cabbage has not been reaped yet, so cabbage from China has mostly been sold in the jangmadang (markets). Unripe cabbage made in North Korea is being sold at 450~500 won per bundle and Chinese-produced cabbage costs around 1,800~2,000 won.” Last year, North Korean-produced cabbage was sold for 200~250 won per bundle.

He explained, “Chosun (North Korea) cabbage has a lot of insect marks and the leaves are tough, but on the other hand, Chinese-produced cabbages have better quality, so generally reflect over a twofold difference in price. Mostly, the party leaders buy and eat these cabbages rather than average civilians.”

However, with the soaring price of North Korean cabbage, the cost of imported cabbage has increased significantly.

Ms. Lee added, “In the winter, there is only one type of a sidedish—kimchi–so they are called ‘a half-year’s gourmet food.’ At this time, if we cannot prepare kimchi, we will not see kimchi for the entire year next year.”

North Korean civilians have prepared for kimchi by harvesting cabbage or radish seeds, planted starting late July immediately after reaping wheat and corn, from the end of October.

The reality of the cabbage scarcity is due to the loss of the majority of cabbage, which had just started sprouting in early August, in the flood.

The North Korean Central News Agency and the Chosun Shimbo issued by Chongryon (General Association of North Korean Residents in Japan) reported on the 10th, “In some areas of South Pyongan and Kangwon, collective farm laborers plowed the fields submerged in the flood and have started re-sowing.”

The North Korean farmers started sowing cabbage and radish seeds again, but the amount of the harvest is expected to be half of the annual average amount. Due to this, North Korea’s “kimjang combat,” which is supposed to start the middle of October, is supposed to be hit with a huge setback.

In North Korea, using military language such as “combat” for important events is customary. Just as there is the spring rice-planting combat, the summer weeding combat, and the fall harvesting combat, the words, “kimjang combat,” are used during kimjang season.

In northernmost Yangkang, North Hamkyung, kimjang season begins in the middle of October. Come November, all regions of North Korea, such as South Hamkyung, Jagang, North Pyongan, South Pyongan, and Hwanghae are swarming from the combats.

However, the price of cabbage has exorbitantly this year and by kimjang season, the price of hot pepper and seasoning skyrockets, so the concern of North Korean ordinary people for surviving the winter will be raised a notch.


Comments are closed.