Multiple sources have informed Daily NK that Day of the Sun (North Korea’s biggest holiday) crackers are being sold in local markets before the beginning of the official holiday distribution.

Every year on the Kims’ birthdays, the North Korean government distributes gifts to nurseries (for four and five-year-olds), kindergartens (for six-year-olds), and elementary schools (for seven to twelve-year-olds). While Kim Il Sung’s birthday on Apr. 16 is known as “Day of the Sun,” Kim Jong Il’s birthday on Feb. 16 is called “Day of the Rising Star.” The government has not yet recognized Kim Jong Un’s birthday on Jan. 8 as a national holiday.

“As soon as production of Day of the Sun gifts meant to be distributed in the province was complete, people were selling them in markets and stores all over the place,” a source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK last Wednesday.

“Factories in each district of Pyongyang finished production of the gifts in the beginning of April. Now, they are easily found in local markets,” another source in Pyongyang said. “Even though the gifts appeared at the markets earlier than usual, the authorities don’t appear to be attempting to prevent the candies from being sold.”

Day of the Sun gifts are usually distributed during events administered by nurseries, kindergartens, and elementary schools one or two days before the holiday. The gifts were easily found being sold at local markets. 

This year, however, the items became available at markets about one week ahead of schedule.

Gift food bags provided to children in past years. / Image: Daily NK

“[The merchants] didn’t touch the [gift] allocations for the schools, but they started selling the surplus produced in the province at the beginning of April,” the North Hamgyong Province source said, adding, “However, they aren’t selling them out in the open – it’s more of an under-the-table type transaction.”

Interestingly, the same phenomenon is taking place in the capital city of Pyongyang. The early rush to sell the Day of the Sun gifts may be an indication of the country’s poor economic conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Pyongyang kids’ standards for snacks have gone up in recent years, so it wasn’t unusual for them to say the cookies don’t taste good and put them up for sale, but the situation is a little bit different now,” the Pyongyang source explained. “It looks like a lot of households will sell the gifts for rice.” 

One gift bag is currently selling for KPW 5,000, while one kilogram of rice costs from KPW 3,600 to KPW 4,000.

*Translated by S & J

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.
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Jeong Tae Joo is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. He focuses on North Korean military matters. Please direct any questions about his articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.