Pyongyang residents to use electronic currency for purchases

Nov. 6, 2012 at 10:51 AM

PYONGYANG, North Korea, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Residents of the North Korean capital will soon begin using a card for electronic payments, trade sources say.

The new card, which will go into use this month in Pyongyang, is part of economic reforms to prevent devaluation of the country's currency, the Japanese newspaper The Mainichi Shimbun reported Tuesday.

The cards will allow only the use of the local won currency. Salaries reportedly will be paid through the cards, which will also contain information on supply handouts. Shoppers at state-run stores will only be able to pay using the cards.

North Korea is undergoing a series of economic reforms, one of which is to tighten central control of the economy through nationalized stores.

The prices of food and other basic goods that can be purchased at nationalized stores with supply tickets have been raised closer to market prices. The government has stopped the practice among some in the privileged classes of buying stock at lower national prices and selling it for a profit on the open market although open-market sales are more common in rural areas where farmers sell produce from their lots.

Inflation has dramatically increased prices. In May, a kilogram of rice sold for 3,000 won. In September, the price for the same rice hit a record 6,000 won.

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