North Korea will ban the use of foreign currency for purchases among both its citizens and foreigners beginning on January 1, Chinese state television reported Wednesday, another sign the communist government is intent on reasserting control over the economy.
North Korean citizens "will be forbidden from directly using dollars, euros and other foreign currencies in shops, restaurants and other outlets," CCTV said in a brief report on its main evening news program.
Foreigners must exchange foreign currency for North Korean in order to purchase items, the report said.
The order, issued by North Korea’s state security bureau, aims to "forbid the circulation of foreign currency," it said.
No other details were given. The reported order comes weeks after the hard-line communist government said that it would reposition the won as part of a far-reaching currency overhaul aimed at curbing runaway inflation and reasserting government control over the economy.
Although one of the world’s most isolated countries, North Korea has long allowed foreign money to be used at specially designated outlets, which helped generate hard currency for the regime. The new order apparently would end that practice.
Unable to feed its 24 million people, the government began allowing some markets in 2002, including allowing selected farmers to trade in produce.
While an economic success, the markets also sold banned goods such as movies and soap operas from rival South Korea, posing a threat to the totalitarian rule of leader Kim Jong Il. The country’s largest wholesale market in Pyongyang was reportedly shut down in mid-June.