People mobilized for the construction of a Yalu River embankment. It is mostly manual work due to equipment and energy difficulties. Photographed from the Chinese side of North Pyongyang Province in mid-July, 2021 (ASIAPRESS).

A Reeling Economy

Market prices for gasoline and diesel oil have skyrocketed in North Korea too.

The market price of gasoline in North Hamkyung Province and Ryangang Province, as investigated by ASIAPRESS on March 11, was 12,200 won (about 1.81 USD) per kilogram, 1.6 times higher than the price at the beginning of the year. Meanwhile, the price of diesel fuel was 8,200 won (about 1.21 USD), 1.8 times higher than the price at the beginning of the year (Fuel prices are calculated by the kilo in North Korea).


Trends in various prices and the prevailing exchange rate in North Korea, as investigated by ASIAPRESS.


As the exchange rates for the U.S. dollar and RMB have risen by about 30% since the beginning of this year, the depreciation of the won has had a significant impact, but it is believed that the current prices are a reflection of the increase in international prices since last fall.

North Korea will enter the busy agricultural season of rice planting and seed sowing in mid-March, and the transportation of fertilizers and manpower will be in full swing. As such, soaring fuel prices may negatively affect agricultural production.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine is also expected to have a negative effect. Economic sanctions against Russia by the international community will further raise energy prices, as well as the prices of Chinese goods, which account for more than 90% of imports.

It is inevitable that the aftermath of Putin's war will impact the North Korean economy, which has been crippled by excessive coronavirus quarantine measures and a shortage of foreign currency  (Kang Ji-won/ISHIMARU Jiro).

※ASIAPRESS contacts its reporting partners in North Korea through smuggled Chinese mobile phones.