Rice Price and Suicide Rate Rising

Rice price inflation, a key indicator of the spiraling inflation which has beset the North Korean economy as a whole since the November, 2009 redenomination, shows no signs of slowing down, with the price in North Hamkyung Province reaching 1,500 won per kilo as of the 7th.

A source from North Hamkyung Province told The Daily NK the news by phone yesterday, saying, “In the Nammun jangmadang, in Hoiryeong, at around 2PM this afternoon, the rice price per kilogram was more than 1,500 won.”

He also reported, “I called a friend of mine who lives in the Songpyung-district of Chongjin, and he said that the rice price per kilogram in the Sabong jangmadang there had gone over 1,450 won.”

The source added, “Although the Hoiryeong food distribution situation is actually better than elsewhere because this is Kim Jong Suk’s home town, since the value of the new money is continuously deteriorating and the exchange rate has skyrocketed, the prices of all products, as well as rice, have continued to soar.”

The source also noted that promised food distribution had failed to materialize. According to his friend, when Kim Jong Il went to Kim Chaek Steel Mill in Chongjin on the 5th, he told them that food distribution would soon be released. But, that has yet to happen; “just words,” as the source put it.

He went on, “The value of the dollar is rising uncontrollably. Since the economy is in such a mess, the dollar’s value cannot stabilize, only fluctuate.”

“Residents in Hoiryeong and Chongjin expected that when Kim Jong Il came to their Province, maybe to the steel mills, food distribution would be released, but there have been no practical moves on that.”

Exchange rates have also been soaring erratically, the source reported; as of today one dollar is being traded for 1,750 won and one Yuan for 250 won.

With a kilo of rice now costing an unaffordable 1,500 won, residents are growing more and more incredulous, not to mention pessimistic, about the future; “Suicides are increasing,” the source asserted.

“Last year, elderly people committed suicide because they were pessimistic about their lives, but these days, more than a few young people are doing it too.”

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