Thursday, April 22, 2010

A tour in North Korea (Part IV)

Travel in North

North Korean farmers living along the China-North Korea boarder all try their best to find jobs in the factories set up in North Korea by Chinese bosses. These factories use North Korean local fruit to produce fruit carbonated drinks. In Pyongyang they are sold about RMB 5 a bottle. It is a luxury to North Korean people.

What is the wages of these workers? Their Chinese bosses only give them RMB 10 per month. Because the reputation of RMB is high in North Korea and it is convenient to use, North Korean farmers have to pull strings to get jobs in these factories.

According to the investigation of World Food Programme (WFP), the average salary per month for a North Korean worker is U.S. cents 60—75, less than one U.S. dollar. People who live farer from Pyongyang are poorer. That is why so many people want to earn the RMB 10 per month. If the WFP investigation is correct, I will really feel doubtful to the salary of RMB 600 per month that the tour guide told me in Pyongyang.

In North Korea, RMB is really useful. People can buy things with it in China and then sell these goods in North Korea with higher prices. But North Koreans have to bribe the North Korean custom officials to take the goods home from China.
On the train back to China, someone tried to trade RMB from me with his won. The rate was RMB 1 to N-Korean won 70 (Official rate 1:17). One person from Liaoning province of China told me that RMB 1 can trade back N-Korean won 200 in black-market of Dandong of China! And even this, he said, it is still difficult to reach a deal with such a exchange rate, because who will want the worthless North Korean won?! (End)