A money exchanger at a black market exchanging Chinese RMB with North Korean Won. 2013, in a northern part of North Korea(ASIAPRESS)


Long-held distrust and vigilance: citizens beware of the government.

However, some residents are cautious about using the bank cards.

A reporting partner in Musan County checked the usage of bank cards around him last December and reported the result: “Many people don’t use the card at all.  Especially, those who transfer a large amount of money–such as wealthy businesspeople, money exchangers, and traders–are afraid that the government may find out the details of their transactions.  It is because government organizations frequently censor banks.  Therefore, the majority of businesspeople would continue to use an individually-owned black market transfer of money instead of a bank card.  Transactions between state-owned companies are conducted via banks.”

Presumably, the North Korean government, by increased use of bank cards, intends to normalize the official financial system by inducing money of private financial sector into it and to restrict the non-transparent flow of money.
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The public finance system in North Korea lost trust among its people as the devaluation of North Korean Won had continued since around 2000.  Also, people could not freely withdraw their deposited.  What is worse, the unexpected denomination at the end of 2009 ended was total failure–North Koreans had to exchange 1,000 Won notes for 10 Won notes.  Until now, the North Korean people don’t have trust in the finance system.

It will take time for the North Koreans, after having been betrayed by the government, to be able to use the banking system at ease.

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