Economy has improved in Pyongyang since sanctions, source says

SEOUL, Sept. 14 (UPI) — Prices are stabilizing in North Korea six months after the passage of tough United Nations Security Council sanctions.

Economic conditions for residents of Pyongyang may even have improved since March.

A source in the North Korean capital who spoke to South Korean news service No Cut News said the sanctions have had little effect on the daily lives of North Koreans because of vibrant trade with China.

Rice costs have not fluctuated and remain at about 5,000 North Korean won per kilogram, or about 2 pounds, according to the source.

The exchange rate has also stayed at 7,900-8,000 won to the dollar, and a liter of gasoline costs about 6,000 won, a decrease since the enforcement of international sanctions.

The domestic economy is recovering and demand for new cars is growing. The popularity of automobiles means consumers must wait one or two months before their order is fulfilled, the source said.

Improvements to North Korea’s power supply, including the merging of the grid, have led to more efficient operations and Pyongyang’s access to electricity has returned to normal, the source added.

But the source also said construction on a Pyongyang street dedicated to North Korean scientists was suspended because workers were being mobilized for flood relief in North Hamgyong Province.

Pyongyang’s unofficial night markets, however, were conducting business as usual.

North Korea is also preparing to observe the annual harvest, or Korean Thanksgiving Day, which is on Saturday.

The traditional holiday celebrated in North and South Korea was banned for much of Kim Il Sung‘s period of rule until 1988, according to South Korean news magazine Sisa Journal.

Kim reinstated the holiday in 1988 despite its “feudal roots” for political reasons, in order to appease pro-Pyongyang Koreans in Japan, who were beginning to hold negative views of the communist North, the report states.

The holiday is now observed and North Koreans often visit their ancestors’ cemeteries like South Koreans, according to defectors.

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