North Korean sources are reporting that there has been a drastic reduction in the number of merchants and items available for purchase in Pyongyang, amid reports that the country’s overall economy is facing increasing problems.
“Merchants are have a difficult time even in some Pyongyang markets,” said a Pyongyang-based source on April 17. “They can’t sell anything, so they increasingly can’t pay their market fees.”
Merchants are required to pay 1,000 to 3,000 KPW in fees each day, but the source added that even earning this amount of money is hard for them. She pointed to the “Red Street 2-dong Market” in Pyongyang’s Potonggang District as an example.
“Business is bad, so many stalls are increasingly empty,” she said. “There’s fewer than 1,000 stalls actually doing business now.”
The Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU) found in 2016 that there were 2,178 stalls in that same market. The source’s report suggests that only half of the stalls are continuing to do business.
Changes in Pyongyang’s markets are also evident in the goods being offered for sale. Most of what’s available for purchase is limited to food and beverages, standing in stark contrast to the range of products available in the past which included clothes, cigarettes, manufactured products and even electronic goods. ......