December 07, 2023

In Mao we trust: The increasing use of Yuan in North Korea

90% of transactions in some North Korean markets use foreign currency – in particular, the Yuan

The devaluation of the North Korean currency–implemented without prior warning in November, 2009–confirmed something that had been increasingly apparent since 2002: among the most pressing issues facing ordinary North Koreans today is ensuring access to secure stores of value for their assets and one of the most effective means by which to do so, in particular for urban residents, is via the increasingly popular medium of foreign currency.

Foreign currency access is a crucial tool for the North Korean people not only because inflationary pressures are putting the North Korean Won (KPW) under increasing strain, but because the North Korean government has demonstrated a readiness when necessary to take the assets of the majority for the benefit of a minority.