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North Korea Adopts New Food Rationing System

Posted October. 05, 2005 07:18,   


More is becoming known about a new food rationing system introduced in urban areas of North Korea as of this month.

According to sources working with China, the new rationing system is not just a revival of the previous one, but includes a dual pricing system.

“The most notable part of the new rationing system is that it sets a lower price for those who go to work, and a higher one for those who do not,” said Choi Young-ho, a Korean Chinese merchant who returned from North Korea on October 2, “As for corn, it is sold at both 40 won and 190 won per kilogram.”

The previous system gave out different amounts of rations; for example a person performing dangerous or heavy labor would receive 900 grams of food per day, but a family member who stayed at home would be allocated only 300 grams.

The new system is interpreted as being a desperate measure to return to the workplace those residents who left their jobs and began a trading business, as a result of the decade-old economic hardships.

Another characteristic of the new rationing system is that the government will purchase the crops produced at separately cultivated fields. Farmers will be distributed a certain amount of food all at once in autumn, instead of receiving monthly rations. In the process, the food produced at each field will be included in the amount distributed to the household, and the surplus is to be sold to the government. Selling food on the market will be severely regulated, giving farmers no choice but to sell the crop to the government, but fortunately the government purchasing price is on the high side, close to the more expensive price of the dual pricing system.