North Korean authorities distributed food to mark the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the country on Sept. 9, but many people in areas outside of Pyongyang failed to receive much in this latest distribution. 

According to a Daily NK source in North Korea on Wednesday, North Koreans recently received at least 10 days of food. The state followed past practice and sold the food at lower-than-market prices—KPW 4,000 per kilogram of rice.

After implementing economic reform measures on July 1, 2002, North Korea raised the state-set prices of food, consumer goods and housing—which, until that point, had been more or less free—and adopted so-called “ration pricing” and “purchase pricing.” This system was applied to the latest food provision as well.

In Pyongyang, the authorities supplied food between Sept. 1 and Sept. 8. The food was distributed to all households who wanted it, not just destitute families devoid of food and cash.

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A view of Hyesan, in North Korea’s Yanggang Province. / Image: Daily NK

In North Hamgyong Province’s city of Chongjin, however, food distribution began from Sept. 12. The pricing system used was similar to that in Pyongyang. 

Daily NK understands, however, that despite the fact North Korean authorities had clamored about coming food distributions, many people failed to receive anything due to insufficient supplies.

Moreover, while the authorities promised three months of food, locals in Chongjin received just 15 days of food over two rounds of distributions. 

This suggests that the North Korean authorities are in such dire straits that they cannot provide food and that, short of new efforts by the government, this food situation will continue. 

“Due to the coronavirus situation, the people are very dispirited with the shortage of food,” said the source. “However, with the authorities distributing even small amounts of food in a discriminatory way, they are dragging down general morale even further.”

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