N.Korean Premier 'Apologizes Over Currency Debacle'

      February 10, 2010 07:49

      North Korean Premier Kim Yong-il has apologized for inflation and confusion in the aftermath of the shock currency reform, a South Korean activist group said in its newsletter Tuesday.

      "During a meeting of senior members of the Pyongyang municipal people's committee a few days ago, Kim Yong-il apologized for confusion and instability in the daily lives of people caused by wrongly fixed prices at state-run shops from the time of the currency reform to early this year," Good Friends said in the newsletter.

      North Korean leader Kim Jong-il recently dismissed the head of the planning and fiscal affairs department of the Workers' Party, Pak Nam-gi, over the currency reform failure.

      With food shortages worsening, the North's Ministry of Foreign Trade has ordered trading companies to "import food unconditionally," the newsletter said. "Officials at the North Korean Cabinet and Trade Ministry held a meeting about the food situation on Jan. 27. After the meeting, they instructed all trading companies to import food under any circumstances."

      The newsletter went on to say, "Currently, all food shipments unloaded at Nampo Port are distributed to Army boot camps, railway management offices, sports camps, and security offices. There is no report about any plan to distribute the food to ordinary residents."

      Illegal money changers who were arrested in mid-January have recently been freed and foreign currency transactions have been resumed in some parts of North Korea, the newsletter added.

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