North Korean authorities released a public announcement that they will exchange deposits, consigned to the Chosun (North Korea) Central Bank during the currency redenomination in November last year, into new bills at the rate of 100:1 within the limit of 500,000 won.
Last November the North’s authorities announced that they will exchange the existing denomination, to a limit of 150,000 won per household, to the newly issued bills at the rate of 100:1. They urged people to deposit their remaining cash into the bank.
However, many citizens have refused to follow the instructions after previous experiences with forfeited deposits during the country’s fourth redenomination in 1992.
This measure is designed to work towards curing the hardships of residents caused by the decline in value of individual property since the last redenomination. There are hopes that it will stimulate market activity by increasing the amount of money in circulation, particularly since a downturn in purchasing power amongst the people led to an economic depression.
However, even after the Central Bank’s announcement the people remain apathetic. A source said that, “Prices have risen to similar levels as before the redenomination. Rice now costs over 1,000 won per kilogram; when you get back your deposit of 5,000 won you can only buy five kilograms of rice. It’s meaningless.”
If the state-designated price of rice, around 24 won per kilogram in procurement stores, had been maintained then this measure would be significant. Now the prices have multiplied by 50 and the people say that the measure is nothing but a play on words.
In addition, February saw the authorities hand down a decree to raise all state-designated prices by 100 times to levels known before the redenomination. The decree was not applied to people’s deposits in the bank, a fact that has received criticism from the public. A source commented that, “The authorities actions are nonsense. They raised prices by 100 times but people’s deposits were the same value as last year. It is ridiculous.”