North Korean delivery truck
A North Korean truck drives along the bank of the Yalu River in North Pyongan Province. / Image: Daily NK

Delivery service companies funded with capital from North Korea’s nouveau riche are thriving in the country’s major cities, Daily NK has learned. 

“More and more donju are buying 10-ton trucks from China to use for private delivery services,” a North Hamgyong Province-based source told Daily NK. “A man in his late 40s in Chongjin recently bought several trucks and has just finished hiring several drivers.” 

The source explained that delivery services are becoming increasingly popular across the country, particularly in Pyongsong (South Pyongan Province) and Chongjin (North Hamgyong Province). “The reason why it’s happening in these places is because that’s where most wholesale items are sold,” he added. 

Demand for delivery services has ramped up in recent years due to the country’s fast-paced marketization. The emergence of greater numbers of local markets and merchants has led to increasing volumes of goods crossing over provincial borders. North Korea has subsequently seen an increase in transport-related activity across the board, including a rising number of buses, freight vans and taxis. 

While in South Korea most delivery services focus on meeting consumer demand, the growth of North Korea’s delivery services market has been underpinned by merchants and business activities. Delivery service drivers receive packages from merchants primarily to transport them to other merchants.

Drivers receive payments for transporting goods, and with business picking up, there has naturally been a greater demand for bigger trucks. 

Private traders in North Korea can now take advantage of delivery services, which were previously only accessible to government agencies and major businesses such as factories. 

“Delivery vehicles make around four long-distance trips to and from Chongjin each month. Each vehicle earns the delivery service owners around KRW 1.35 million per month,” said the source. “The owners pay drivers around KRW 340,000 for their monthly salary.”  

This KRW 340,000 figure translates to around KPW 240,000. By comparison, workers at state-run enterprises typically receive monthly salaries of a mere KPW 3,000. 

“Delivery service drivers feel lucky to have their jobs,” another Daily NK source said. “It’s the most popular job for men these days, but there aren’t many vacancies available so competition is fierce.” 

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