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North Korea Farming Region Destroyed, So the Cost of Rice Increases
Due to the flood damage which heavily affected the central region of North Korea last August, the next year’s price of rice has been putting an increasing burden among civilians.

Min Nam Su (pseudonym), a North Korean trader who has come to Dandong, China, said on the 15th, “In Hwanghae and South Pyongan Province this year, farming has been affected for the flood damage, so the price of rice has been showing signs of an increase. Currently in the Jangmadang (markets) in Shinuiju, 15kg of rice costs 25,000 North Korean won (KRW8,000, USD8.7).

“The farmlands in Hwanghae and South Pyongan have been completely submerged, so we were only able to look to farming in North Pyongan Province. It is obvious that they will be taken up for provisions for the People’s Army, so people who have money are already busy buying and hoarding rice.”

A majority of urban civilians are directly purchasing rice from the jangmadang, with the exception of Hwanghae and Pyongyang, after the breakdown of the provision system in North Korea. If the price of rice skyrockets, the livelihood of North Korean citizens will be directly affected.

It is possible that the rice aid from South Korea or international society, which will be distributed from the end of this month, may stabilize the price of rice.

Good Friends, beginning early this month, relayed through its newsletter, “Only when the rice aid comes in quickly will the overall price of rice decrease, no matter whose hands it falls into. It is difficult to buy a kg of rice for 1,700~1,900 won.”

Rice aid to North Korea flows in through Pyongyang, Nampo, or through Chongjin Harbor. The rice, after it goes to the People’s Army or large-city political employees, travels down a path of smuggling into the jangmadang. NGOs for North Korea estimate that the actual amount of rice allocated to civilians is around 30% of all the aided rice.

The North Korean authorities recently gave an instruction to factories and offices to guarantee six-months worth of food provisions to laborers, but the factories are reportedly in a difficult situation due to the rice shortage.

Mr. Min said, “From now on, 15kg of rice is supposed to hike up to 50,000 North Korean won (approx. USD17.4). In places like Yongcheon plain and Jungju plain, some farming has been well done, so the armies are mobilized and will do harvest. This year in particular, there will probably be a lot of thieves in farmlands.”

He said further, “The price of rice is supposed to have risen even more in Kaecheon, Suncheon, and Pyongsung in South Pyongan Province than in Shinuiju. There have been news that people are even coming from the Hwanghae region, which is a famous farming province, to North Pyongan to buy rice.”

Mr. Min said, “In early August, when the initial flood damage occurred, a kilogram of rice rose to 1,960 (approx. USD0.7) in the Shinuiju and in the second week of August, remained stable at 1,500 won (approx. USD0.52). It seems like the price of rice will continue to rise. But, the situation would change when the support is distributed to the civilians, but who expects that?”
MGR Archive 18.10.2007
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Region Type Price  
Russia Rapan $ 700
USA Jupiter Rice $630
USA Calrose #1 $830
USA Calrose #1 Paddy $480
EU Prices Baldo €660
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