Report: Video shows bustling market in NKorea

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Video taken at a bustling North Korean market in a border town showed an array of Chinese-made products for sale, a peek at how the country is recovering from drastic economic measures taken late last year, a report said Thursday.

Footage showed tables piled with goods, including shampoos and cosmetics, electric fans and rice cookers, at the crowded market in Sinuiju across from the Chinese city of Dandong, South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper said.

Merchants, many middle-aged women in short sleeves, sat next to each other at the market named “Chaeha” and loudly talk to their customers, video posted on the paper’s website showed.

Chinese-made clothing, kettles, motorcycle helmets and other goods were on sale, as well fruit such as bananas and watermelons.

The newspaper also ran framegrabs of video it said was provided by an unidentified source in North Korea. Hidden from view are illicit goods from rival South Korea, the source told the paper.

North Korea redenominated its currency in November as part of efforts to lower inflation and reassert control over its nascent market economy. However, the measure reportedly worsened the country’s food situation by forcing the closure of markets and sparked anger among many North Koreans left with piles of worthless bills, according to South Korea’s Unification Ministry.

North Korea reopened the markets earlier this year, according to both South Korean and North Korean officials.

“North Korea has no choice but to condone markets due to lack of supplies provided by the government,” said Kim Yong-hyun, an expert on North Korean affairs at Seoul’s Dongguk University.

The footage confirms North Korea’s growing dependence on China, said Koh Il-dong, an expert on the North Korean economy at the state-run Korea Development Institute in Seoul.

However, goods from South Korea are more popular, with North Koreans seeking out Samsung cell phones and LG Electronics TVs, the news report said.

The two Koreas remain in a state of war because their three-year conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, in 1953. Still, DVDs of South Korean films and popular television soap operas are sold at North Korean markets, according to analysts, defectors and news reports.

Ri Ki Song, a professor at the Institute of Economy at North Korea’s Academy of Social Sciences, told international TV news agency APTN in April that the government wants to phase out all markets by 2012, and eventually provide all goods through state-controlled outlets.


Associated Press writer Hyung-jin Kim contributed to this report.