Regime Classifies Market Prices as “State Secret”

In an unprecedented move, the North Korean authorities have
warned residents in border areas that sharing information on market
prices with the outside world will result in harsh punishment.

A Daily NK source located in North Hamkyung Province reported
on the 14th, “Recently lectures at People’s Units have emphasized that the Republic’s secrets are being leaked to the
outside via phone conversations.  We were threatened that if anyone was caught in the act of calling someone outside
of the country they would be sent to a prison camp.”

“It was said that ‘impure elements’ are planning to bring
about the collapse of socialism in our style from the inside out,” the source
recalled.

“We were also told that market prices were a state
secret.  Such a thing has never been
raised in a People’s Unit lecture before, and the people are dumbfounded that the
price of rice, pork and corn can be considered a secret of that magnitude.”

“Others are making more cynical remarks,” the source continued.  “They say, ‘We’re the worst off in the world, and since we don’t
get paid we can’t buy expensive rice. This is a national embarrassment for them
and all they want to do is hide it. That’s why market prices are a state secret
as well.'” 

Furthermore, “Many ordinary people are of the opinion that
the cadres [should be targeted] as they know better than anybody else about state secrets.  Smugglers, too, are now concerned for their
livelihoods as it is necessary for them to discuss pricing issues with their
counterparts in China.”

The flow of information in and out of the country has long been restricted by the Kim regime out of fears of a challenge to their
unitary rule. 

Others assess that these latest measures indicate the North’s sensitivity
over recent criticism leveled against the regime in the South Korean media, an
act that the North deems an “insult to the Highest Dignity.” 

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Kang Mi Jin
Kang Mi Jin is a North Korean defector turned journalist who fled North Korea in 2009. She has a degree in economics and writes largely on marketization and economy-related issues for Daily NK. Questions about her articles can be directed to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.