Sanctions lead to continued stagnation of North Korea’s markets
International sanctions have led to a rising number of empty stalls appearing in local markets and fewer consumers. Merchants at the markets are facing a drastic reduction in profits as a result.
Daily NK conducted an interview with a local in Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province, to better understand conditions on the ground in the country’s local markets.
Daily NK: How are the markets going these days?
Sinuiju Resident: There may be a lot of people at the markets but they are not buying much. There are empty stalls all over the place. These days the government has forcibly mobilized people in campaigns to respond to droughts or the rainy season, so there’s been a reduction in consumers. There are also product distribution problems. The sanctions have led to a fall in profits for merchants. That being said, this area [North Pyongan Province] is on the border with China so it’s in better shape than the inner regions of the country.
Daily NK: Have merchant profits fallen significantly?
Sinuiju Resident: They need to earn at least 200 yuan a month, but these days they barely earn 80 yuan. When they are not mobilized by the state, merchants generally begin work at 9 AM. During mobilizations, the markets don’t open until 5 PM. So they are suffering a lot financially.
Daily NK: Are people able to get enough to eat?
Sinuiju Resident: When times are good, merchants will put more effort into their businesses than toward their farming activities, but because business is bad now they are focusing on farming. They are out weeding their farms. Government rations are only given to those working at military factories, or members of the police and military. Everyone has to be self-sufficient, so people are out in the fields harvesting food. They aren’t suffering from hunger. ......