North Korea tells people to use 'oxcarts' as fuel costs rise

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |  March 13, 2018 at 12:30 PM
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March 13 (UPI) -- North Korea is coping with high gasoline prices and the state is urging ordinary people to use oxcarts to carry heavy equipment, rather than trucks, according to sources in the country.

The price of gasoline per kilogram hovers between 13,000 and 18,000 North Korean won, and diesel is being sold at 7,000 to 8,000 won, Daily NK reported Tuesday.

There is no official exchange rate, but about 8,000 to 10,000 North Korean won is equivalent to 1 U.S. dollar.

Prices have doubled since March 2017, when a kilogram of gasoline was being sold at 8,000 won, and is up from February, when in Yanggang Province gasoline was estimated to be worth about 13,000 won per kilogram, the report stated.

Daily NK's source said fuel is scarce because "little crude oil is coming in from China, and it is being used for national defense and for farming," leaving a low supply for other uses.

Vehicles on the roads have also decreased significantly owing to sanctions.

"The number of cars have reduced by about 40 percent," Daily NK's source said, adding state authorities have called on people to tap into "self-reliance" and use oxcarts for transportation.

The last round of United Nations Security Council sanctions that came with the adoption of Resolution 2397, following North Korea's Hwasong-15 missile launch, may be squeezing the regime.

More reports from the U.N. indicate sanctions are being enforced in countries like Singapore, where North Korea has had access to commercial trading firms that could supply the regime with luxury goods.

The BBC reported Monday the Singaporean government has begun investigating two companies, OCN and T Specialist, which are being probed for illegal sales of luxury items to North Korea.

The goods sent to the North include wines and spirits, most likely being used to reward elites for loyalty.

Transactions exceeded $2 million between 2011 and 2014, according to the report.

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