Bartering is Back in North Korea

As predicted by experts on North Korea’s economy, since the authorities have yet to officially release state prices, the North Korean people are now surviving by bartering.

A defector, who spoke with his family in North Hamkyung Province on Tuesday, reported the news to the Daily NK, “I called my family to send some money to them as I had heard they were in trouble, and they told me that the current situation is unspeakably terrible. They live only by bartering with others.”

He explained further, “For now, state-designated prices are still not public, so people think that selling goods for cash now would mean making a loss. Therefore, bartering has become the main method of trading for the people.”

According to the defector, the barter value of products is decided according to their value in old money. For instance, before the currency redenomination, one Pollack was 1,500 won and a kilogram of corn was 900 won, so people barter one Pollack for a little less than two kilograms of corn. Other products are dealt with in the same way. Barter trade is carried out only privately in homes so as to avoid detection.

The source noted, “People complain that the authorities keep stressing the idea of a strong country in the 21st century while the people’s living conditions are no different from in ancient times.”

He added, “On January 8, people had a day off for Kim Jong Eun’s birthday, but it did not interest them. The succession issue cannot hold people’s interest; they just want everything to be put in order.”