North Koreans getting cash for 70th anniversary

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North Koreans getting cash for 70th anniversary

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will pay cash gifts to his people to mark the 70th anniversary of the country’s ruling party.

According to the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency, the bonuses will be 100 percent of monthly living expenses and will be paid to all adults, including members of the armed forces. People in high school or younger are excluded.

It’s one of the few times North Korea has decided on cash bonuses rather than gifts of goods. In the past, the North often marked important political anniversaries by giving out blankets or clocks.

North Korea analysts said the young ruler is trying to boost the morale of the people and win support ahead of the Workers’ Party’s 70th anniversary on Oct. 10.

The average North Korean worker earns a monthly salary between 1,500 won and 6,000 won, not enough to buy 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of rice.

“The cash bonus paid by the North Korean authority shows that a market mechanism is being operated in the North Korean economy,” said a South Korean government official. “It also shows that the country has an established monetary economy.”

The last time the North paid a cash bonus to its people was ahead of a World Youth Festival in 1989. At the time, workers, engineers and university students on scholarships were given a special cash bonus, but soldiers, the unemployed and retired workers were excluded.

BY SER MYO-JA, CHOI IK-JAE [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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