According to another reporting partner in the northern part of the country, the authorities had set a price ceiling for white rice at 4.5 Chinese yuan per kilogram in early February but, on February 7, forced the price down even lower- to 3.6 Chinese yuan. (1 Chinese yuan is worth about 0.14 USD)
“Authorities confiscated 4 tons of rice from a trader who had been selling it at a higher price than 3.6 yuan. I had that confirmed by someone who had just bought rice from that store. The rice they sell is not received from the state, so the traders are upset that the authorities are forcing them to cut prices,” the reporting partner said.
The authorities are not just intervening in the rice market but are also regulating the prices of medicine and cooking oil. The “Anti-Socialist Censorship Group” is going around drug stores and forcing them to set their prices at what they stood at before the border blockade began.
If the traders reply that the “products are sold out,” the Anti-Socialist Censorship Group will later send someone pretending to be a customer to check the prices.
※ The ‘Anti-Socialist Censorship Group’ is an official agency set up to clamp down on acts or behavior that threaten to “disrupt the socialist order.”
It has also been reported that authorities are strictly regulating prices in North Hamkyung Province. According to a reporting partner in Musan County, speaking with ASIAPRESS on February 6, an announcement was made through a propaganda channel installed in all houses, "criticizing individual citizens by name for spreading false rumors and raising their prices at markets."
The reporting partner added, “We were told at inminban (local political unit) meeting’s to report any price-raising to the authorities.”
※ ASIAPRESS contacts reporting partners in North Korea through smuggled Chinese mobile phones.
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