New Food Puts Pyongyang Further Ahead

Lee Sang Yong  |  2013-09-06 20:31
The North Korean authorities have distributed this year’s corn harvest and some wartime rice reserves to the people of Pyongyang to celebrate the upcoming September 9th holiday, which marks the founding of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

However, at the same time there has not been distribution in provincial regions, which is forcing up food prices in provincial public markets.

A source in Pyongyang told Daily NK on the 6th, “A fortnight’s rice distribution came out at the beginning of September. Even newly harvested corn was given out, and the people were happy with the sudden food supply increase.”

“Party cadres said by way of explanation for this comparative plenty that the Marshal (Kim Jong Eun) said that if war starts we’ll win in two days so open the no.2 (wartime rice) stores and give it to the people of Pyongyang,” the source said. “They said we ought to show loyalty and be grateful to the Marshal for his generosity.”

“They’ve distributed the food to instill loyalty to the authorities in the run up to Republic Foundation Day,” the source said. using the North Korean name for September 9th. “Most importantly, they are idolizing Kim Jong Eun by saying that the distribution is down to the Marshal’s benevolence.”

However, a source in Hyesan told Daily NK, “As recently as the beginning of August we received ten days of rice, but there has been no sign of distribution in September. The rice that they last distributed was all cracked and bad to eat, but there are plenty of other people who haven’t gotten anything.”

According to Daily NK sources, the authorities started giving out rice rations in March to alleviate discontent at the preceding three months of military training. The price of rice fell as a result, declining from a recent high of 7000 won down to 5000 won by the beginning of August.

However, the most recent discriminatory distribution has led to diverging rice prices. In Pyongyang rice has dropped to 4500 won, whereas in Hyesan it is nearer 6000 won. With Republic Foundation Day just three days away the authorities have put the usual ban on inter-provincial travel into force, which is propelling inflationary pressures.

The Hyesan source pointed out, “Traders would like to go to Pyongyang to get cheap rice, but they haven’t been able to. Now word of the distribution is being spread by traders, and people out here in the provinces are complaining that they are being ignored.”

The source asserted that the distribution in Pyongyang is one reflection of efforts to ensure the best available life for residents of the so-called “Capital of the Revolution.”

As one former high-ranking official put it this way: “North Korea houses the highest level cadres and loyalists in Pyongyang, and, unlike the people everywhere else in the country, they maintain a system of discrimination in food and housing distribution." However, the defector warned, "Given that information circulates well by cellphone, an increasing number of people are going to get annoyed about this if it continues.”
 
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2014.04.21
Won Pyongyang Sinuiju Hyesan
Exchange Rate 7,650 7,700 8,000
Rice Price 3,800 3,900 4,000