◆ Prices rise in Pyongyang
The situation seems to be better in Pyongyang, as Chinese products are still in stock. Though a reporting partner in Pyongyang said on February 4 that the price of rice had risen to 5 Chinese yuan and the price of soybean oil, which had stood at 35 Chinese yuan for 5 kilograms, had risen to 80 Chinese yuan. In Hyesan City, by the border, the price for soybean oil had risen to 65 Chinese yuan.
“In Pyongyang as well, security agencies are monitoring and cracking down on rice prices. There is also a growing fear of a goods shortage among Pyongyang citizens,” said the reporting partner.
According to other reporting partners, as of February 4, the authorities had not taken steps to block the internal flow of vehicles and citizens coming south from the border regions. However, as Chinese goods imported before the shutdown of the border are now out of stock, trucks are no longer departing from Hyesan City anyway.
“Further away from the border, there are growing fears, not of the virus, but of starving to death due to rising food prices. Although they cannot be confirmed, there are rumors spreading that cities on the border with China, such as Hoeryong, Musan, Hyesan, and Manpo, are being blocked off from the rest of the country. If that happens, it will be the end for those living inland,” explained a reporting partner from Hyesan.
◆ Trade officials quarantined in hotels
In Hyesan City, the head of the regional trade bureau, as well as senior trade officials and civil servants who have been in contact with visiting Chinese citizens, are under long-term quarantine in various hotels. Apparently, since February 4, police officers, inspection teams, and members of the Youth Alliance and Women’s Alliance have been placed at bridges and roads to crack down on passing citizens who are not wearing masks.
※ ASIAPRESS contacts reporting partners in North Korea through smuggled Chinese mobile phones.
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