Small drops in prices of grains and other food reported in parts of North Korea

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A market official on patrol in Sunchon, South Pyongan province. / Image: Daily NK

The price of grains and major foodstuffs declined slightly from last month in parts of North Korea.

According to a Daily NK source in Yangang province on Friday, prices for rice, corn, beans, cooking oil, seasonings and sugar fell in markets in Hyesan this month.

A kilogram of rice has increased from 5,700 KPW to 5,400 KPW, while the price of maize has increased from 3,300 KPW to 2,600 KPW. Meanwhile, a kilo of beans sold for 7,000 KPW after previously selling for 9,000 KPW per kilo.

The price of cooking oil went from 46,000 KPW per kilo to 41,000 KPW, while the price of seasonings went from 230,000 KPW to 210,000 KPW. A kilogram of sugar has dropped sharply from 45,000 KPW to 35,000 KPW.

What is remarkable is that rice prices have barely changed despite the peak of the harvest season. The source said that with poor harvests this year due to natural disasters and a lack of fertilizer, “seasonal factors” like harvesting have little impact on the market.

The source said residents are clearly disappointed that prices did not drop as expected this fall. He added that some people are already worried about next year’s food supply.

The prices of items that were in high demand such as cooking oil, seasonings and sugar are dropping, but from a locals perspective, the prices are still ridiculously high compared to what they were before COVID- 19.

In addition, an increasing number of locals are looking for these items based on rumors of imports entering through the port of Nampo. However, many complain that stocks are still insufficient.

The source said that market prices for all kinds of items are so volatile that prices change from morning to afternoon. This leads to continued chaos with traders refusing to sell when prices are low.

At the same time, the Voice of America reported on Friday that North Korea imported nearly $ 11.4 million worth of food from China in September, citing trade statistics from the Chinese customs authority.

This is a 44% increase from August, when North Korea imported just under $ 8 million worth of food from China. Food accounted for a fifth of North Korea’s imports from China in September.

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