February 25, 2024

Black market cash: The real value of N. Korean won

Differences in official, unofficial exchange rates can lead to confusing economic reports

That North Korea has a black market where families earn most of their money, and that the regime has learned to tolerate a certain degree of capitalist activity is well-documented.

Less-discussed, perhaps, is what this activity means for the North Korean won, which itself has a black market rate far below what officials claim it is worth. With its value having long been eroded by inflation, the official worth of the currency – apparently pegged to the Chinese currency, which itself is pegged to the dollar – only counts at specific locations in the country, a source told NK News.