There had been significant gaps between market prices in varied regions in North Korea recently despite the country’s try to fortify its authority on its markets as borders were sealed last year.
Varied prices posted between regions have been on steady decline as the country’s marketization has established different methods of transport. A great deal of this can be linked to the rise of the country’s servi-cha, which is used as a messenger service that can cut across the secluded state in one day.
There has been minimal difference between commodity prices in varied areas of the country amid the global sanctions-affected oil prices.
But markets which depend on their survival on steady logistics networks have suffered as country authorities strengthened travel restrictions due to the pandemic.
According to a source of an online newspaper Daily NK, a market in Hoeryong sells Chinese flavor enhancers at KPW 165, 000 last March 25. A kilogram of sugar, on the other hand, was sold at KPW 45, 000 while a kilo of Chinese flour was sold at KPW 28, 000.
At the same market, 450 grams of Chinese flour enhancer were sold at KPW 5, 000 before the border was sealed earlier this year. A kilo of sugar was at KPW 5, 500 while a kilo of flour was at KPW 4, 700.
The ascending trend in market commodity markets in the city are more significant than other regions in North Korea.
For instance, a kilo of sugar was sold at KPW 31, 000 on March 23 at Pyongsong Okjon General Market, which is far from the Sino-North Korean border. There, a kilo of flour was sold at KPW 11, 200.
The figures show that there was a 45 percent to 250 percent difference in prices of Chinese food products in Hoeryong and Pyongyang.
“After the start of COVID-19 pandemic, the gap between prices in border areas and inland regions has widened,” shared the source. “The small number of imported goods [going into North Korea] come in through Sinuiju in North Pyongan Province and are then distributed to major cities like Pyongyang and Pyongsong.”
Furthermore, authorities of the secluded state are increasing their authority over markets at a faster rate.
The source said that “operating hours of official markets [have been reduced to] 2 PM to 6 PM.”
Official markets were allowed to open between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. before border obstructions were done by authorities last year.