Now open in North Korea: 24-hour convenience stores

SEOUL, Aug. 9 (UPI) — Convenience stores in North Korea are multiplying in number.

The chain stores, some operating 24 hours a day, are now visible in different parts of the country, Radio Free Asia reported Tuesday.

New businesses have opened along the shared border with China, and in North Hamgyong Province.

A China-based merchant with the last name Lee, who often travels to the province on business, said the retailers have expanded their presence in border cities like Musan and Hoeryong.

The stores operate like “small start-ups” and require about $3,000 in start-up capital, the source said.

Convenience stores along the border began to appear when Chinese traders began looking for a place to liquidate any unsold products. Those goods can be found in convenience stores, the source said.

North Korea’s chain stores carry alcohol, tobacco, meat products and other food items. Like similar stores in Asia, the stores also carry personal care products, including nail clippers.

The stores first opened in Rason and Hamheung, and have most recently opened in Pyongyang, according to the source.

A North Korean woman in her 40s who defected to South Korea in 2015 also said there are five convenience stores in Musan County, in North Hamgyong Province.

Some are open 24 hours a day, the defector said.

But the stores are also allowed to operate because business owners give bribes, about $45 per month, to state security personnel.

The North Korean convenience stores typically have a large refrigerator in place, and the electricity is supplied to the store through a gasoline-powered generator, South Korean CBS No Cut News reported.

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