The Korean Peninsula has just celebrated Chuseok, the traditional harvest festival of the Korean people.
However, rising Chinese Yuan exchange rates have driven price inflation in North Korea to an extreme level in recent months, making it difficult for those without access to sufficient foreign currency to prepare the customary Chuseok ‘ancestral rites’ table.
Internal sources informed Daily NK over the holiday that on September 29th the price of rice was 6,700 won/kg in Pyongyang, 7,000 won/kg in Onsung, North Hamkyung Province and 6,500 won/kg further west in Hyesan, Yangkang Province.
Not only do these prices far exceed those of Chuseok 2011, they even far exceed those of earlier this year.
The Hyesan source explained that on the day before the Chuseok holiday (Saturday) the atmosphere in the market was thus rather uncomfortable. “It was very slack,” she said. “People couldn’t buy anything easily, so most just seemed to be looking.”
Many women were reportedly planning to reduce their seasonal expenses, the source said, for example by buying squid instead of fish.