Tags: NKorea | Communist | currency | KIm

Anguished North Koreans Lose Savings in Communist Government Currency Swap

Wednesday, 02 Dec 2009 09:38 PM

Shops and markets in North Korea have been closed and all cash transactions frozen after the Government’s shock announcement of a devaluation of its currency in an effort to crack down on the country’s burgeoning free-market economy.

In the capital, Pyongyang, only the few shops and restaurants permitted to trade in foreign currencies — patronised by the privileged elite and the city’s small foreign population — were open for business. All other enterprises and services based on cash, including markets, long-distance bus services, barbers’ shops, saunas and bath houses, were suspended until the revaluation of the won is completed next week.

There were reports of public outrage and confusion after the announcement of the measure, which requires North Koreans to swap existing won notes for new ones at an exchange rate of one to 100 — effectively knocking two zeroes off their value. Because of a cap of 100,000 won per family (£475 at the official exchange rate), anyone with significant holdings of cash will have their savings wiped out.

“Loud sounds of weeping in every house have not ceased since the news was released,” a South Korean website quoted an inhabitant of Sinuiju, a city on the border with China, as saying. “Weeping and fighting between couples has not stopped anywhere. The atmosphere of the city is terrible now.”

The website, dailynk.com, said that one elderly couple had killed themselves in North Hamgyong, a province adjacent to the Chinese border across which much illegal trading is carried out. It also reported anxiety among local officials that the currency revaluation would provoke civil unrest.

However, a Western diplomat in Pyongyang said that, apart from the closed shops, the announcement had had no visible effect. North Korea is one of the world’s most tightly controlled and brutal totalitarian states and public dissent is almost unknown.

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Shops and markets in North Korea have been closed and all cash transactions frozen after the Government’s shock announcement of a devaluation of its currency in an effort to crack down on the country’s burgeoning free-market economy.
NKorea,Communist,currency,KIm
310
2009-38-02
Wednesday, 02 Dec 2009 09:38 PM
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