North Korea issues temporary currency as nation runs out of paper and ink is needed to print money
North Korea has a money problem in addition to the economic hardships caused by the pandemic, the Associated Press reported.
As trade with China is down two-thirds from last year, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is forced to deal with issues of rising commodity prices, shortages of medicines and supplies and lack of imports.
Among the shortages are paper and ink. Without them, North Korean officials have had to issue temporary currencies that the country can use.
The lack of goods such as medicines and essential supplies has accelerated the spread of diseases such as typhoid fever. The reduced trade limited industrial activity and encouraged the authorities to increase production. Due to excessive plant operations, a major fertilizer plant exploded in August.
For more Associated Press reporting, see below.
Kim recently lost about 20 kilograms (44 pounds) but remains in good health and is trying to bolster public loyalty to him in the face of economic problems, the South Korean spy agency told lawmakers on Thursday.
The National Intelligence Service gave its assessment in a closed-door parliamentary briefing, saying it was using artificial intelligence techniques, analysis of Kim’s super-resolution video and other methods to investigate the Kim’s state, said two lawmakers who attended the session.
Kim’s health has received a lot of outside attention in recent months, as he has appeared noticeably thinner in photos and videos from state media. Kim, 37, has not publicly named a successor and some experts say a sudden incapacity could spark chaos in the impoverished nuclear-weapon country.
Despite Kim’s slimmer appearance, longtime observers from North Korea said Kim had no apparent health issues and that her weight loss was likely the result of her efforts to improve her physique. They noted that he had continued his regular public activities and that no unusual developments were seen in the North Korean videos.
But unconfirmed rumors about him continued to emerge, with a tabloid claiming recent public appearances used an impostor. The NIS dismissed the report as baseless, said lawmaker Kim Byung-kee.
He said the NIS told the parliamentary session that Kim’s weight increased from around 140 kilograms (308 pounds) to 120 kilograms (264 pounds). The NIS previously said Kim was around 170 centimeters (5 feet, 8 inches) tall.
He said Kim had been participating in public activities for 70 days so far this year, a 45% increase from the same period last year.
Lawmakers said the NIS discovered that Kim had photos of his late father and grandfather, who had ruled North Korea before him, removed from a Workers’ Party conference hall.
Another lawmaker, Ha Tae-keung, quoted the NIS as saying that North Korea has started using the term “Kimjongunism,” a political ideology named after Kim Jong Un that is independent of existing ideologies named after his. father and grandfather, “KimJongilism” and “Kimilsungisme.”
The NIS corroborated recent World Health Organization reports that North Korea is starting to ease its strict COVID-19 border restrictions to receive outside aid.
The West North Korean seaport of Nampo is now “saturated” with supplies from the outside world after authorities recently started allowing increased shipping and entry of medical supplies, according to NIS. North Korea is preparing to open another seaport in the northwest, Yongchon, to handle the increased supplies and is also considering restarting rail transport with China and Russia, he said.
North Korea has yet to report any cases of the coronavirus. As experts questioned his claim of a perfect case, Ha said the NIS had yet to see any signs of a major COVID-19 outbreak.
Despite its tough border controls linked to the virus, North Korea has not shown the same kind of vaccine urgency, as mass vaccinations continue to be delayed due to global shortages.
Ha said North Korea had rejected foreign offers of Russian and Chinese vaccines. Kim, the lawmaker, said the NIS had determined that North Korea had also not shown interest in obtaining Pfizer vaccines, which would require negotiations with the drug maker and the United States. .
Analysts say North Korea might be uncomfortable about international surveillance requirements that would be attached to vaccines it receives from the outside world. Some also believe Kim Jong Un has domestic political motives to tighten the country’s self-imposed lockdown as he calls for unity and tries to strengthen his grip on power.