chicken, chickens, food, state-run shops
Products produced by the Kwangchon Chicken Farm have been arriving at the Pyongyang Commercial Service Center since Jan. 1 and are being supplied to citizens, Rodong Sinmun on Jan. 4. (Rodong Sinmun-News1)

Pyongyang residents are thrilled about the Kwangchon Chicken Farm chicken and eggs recently made available by their government, Daily NK has learned.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source in Pyongyang told Daily NK on Thursday that state-run supermarkets in all the city’s districts have been supplying chicken and eggs from the farm at the rate of KPW 2,100 per kilogram of chicken and KPW 200 per egg.

Considering that three kilograms of frozen chicken sold for KPW 42,000 to KPW 50,000 at a marketplace in Pyongyang’s central district on Feb. 4, the government is providing poultry at about one-seventh of the market price.

North Korea has allocated 800 grams of chicken per person, which means a family of three could buy 2.4 kilograms of chicken. The source added that chickens were not cut up to meet the weight limit, but were distributed whole, even if they weighed 100 to 300 grams more than the nominal allotment.

Egg purchases were limited to six per adult, three per teenager in middle school and older, and two per primary school student and younger. But supermarkets in some Pyongyang suburbs limited egg purchases to two per person, regardless of age.

Given the limited supply, supermarkets away from the city center received lower-quality chicken and fewer eggs.

Some of the chickens sold on the outskirts of the city were so lousy that they were dubbed “computer chickens,” suggesting the robotic nature of being raised on a factory farm. Some citizens even complained that the defrosted chicken had an unpleasant smell.

On the whole, however, the citizens of Pyongyang have responded very positively to the supply of chickens and eggs. In Central District and Mangyongdae District in the heart of the city, the source said, many people were satisfied with the quality of the chickens. They also appreciated the high standard of hygiene, as the chickens were packaged separately and kept refrigerated.

“Crowds of people gathered in front of the supermarkets and there was a festive mood in the air, given the irregular supply of these products. Some families ate the chicken on the day they bought it, while others wanted to save it for the Lunar New Year and had cadres with reliable electricity keep it frozen in exchange for a bottle of liquor,” he said.

Questions remain about future supplies of chicken

However, there are doubts about whether the supply of chickens and eggs can be maintained. For one thing, the Kwangchon Chicken Farm is still undergoing modernization, and for another, there is a shortage of the feed, electricity, and fuel needed to raise chickens.

“The chicken feed provided at Kwangchon is made from 12 different ingredients, including bran powder and crushed clamshells, but there is not enough feed, and it will not be easy to maintain the right temperature in the winter,” the source said.

“While the party wants to provide people with chickens and eggs every month, the modernization work is not yet finished. For the time being, the farm probably won’t be able to produce enough for monthly deliveries.”

Rodong Sinmun reported on Feb. 4 that products from the Kwangchon Chicken Farm had been made available to citizens in all Pyongyang supermarkets since Feb. 1.

“We must diligently improve our production capacity to provide the people with more meat and eggs,” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said during a visit to the chicken farm with his daughter Ju Ae on Jan. 7.

Translated by David Carruth. Edited by Robert Lauler. 

Daily NK works with a network of sources who live in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous due to security concerns. More information about Daily NK’s reporting partner network and information-gathering activities can be found on our FAQ page here.  

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