A special kind of rice for DPRK Workers’ Party officials

Sunday 27th October, 2013


North Korean refugees say that there is a special type of rice reserved for officials of the ruling Workers’ Party.

Once a North Korean reaches a higher rank such as an officer in the army, police force or security ministry, the state provides rations for their household.

North Korean rice is dark in colour, and often full of husks because they are not put through the proper polishing process. Recipients of state rice rations normally sell their rations on in the markets “straight away, without even bothering to open the packet,” according to Kim Eun-hee, who escaped from North Korea in 2012.

Eun-hee says her family received rations because her father was an official in the Workers’ Party. “The children of Party officials don’t like the state rations because it’s a bother to pick out the husks. Some people do take the trouble, but anyone who can afford it prefers to eat better quality rice,” she explains.

Those who sell their state rice rations to market traders buy South Korean or Chinese rice in its place. It works out for everyone involved: “Chosun [North Korean] rice is sticky, and it tends to fill you up more. While ordinary North Koreans will purchase Party officials’ Chosun rice rations in the markets, officials will seek out what they perceive as higher quality rice.”

Son Kwang-chul is from Pyongyang, and he escaped North Korea in 2011. He explains that there actually exists good-quality ‘state rice’ rations for higher-ranking officials. “They say that Jaeryong rice, from Hwanghae Province, used to be offered up to kings in the past. Today, it is designated as a No.9 product.”

In North Korea, No.9 farms and No. 9 production teams are separately managed by the accounting department of the Workers’ Party Central Committee. Products manufactured here are referred to as ‘No.9 products’ and cater to the Kim family and other high-ranking officials.

“Jaeryong rice is in circulation within Pyongyang. It’s starchy and tasty, and it looks transparent. In fact, we say ‘it tastes like honey’. Those with real purchasing power will look to buy Jaeryong rice,” says Kwang-chul.

See also: Why North Koreans will buy rice labelled as South Korean, knowing full well it is imported from China.


Proudly in partnership with

Wednesday 30th November, 2016

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="600"] A train crosses from Dandong into Sinuiju.[/caption] Despite UN sanctions, China has been reportedly exporting fuel by train from a Dandong military ...

Friday 21st October, 2016

Wealth is seemingly increasing in North Korea thanks to the emergence of the informal market. But in communist North Korea, where can one invest their money? [caption id="" align="aligncenter" widt...

Wednesday 19th October, 2016

With its multiple uses - food, currency, and alcohol - corn is an indispensable part of the ordinary North Korean citizen's life. An insight into corn and the unofficial economy in North Korea. ...

Wednesday 21st September, 2016

It is a particularly unsuccessful year for North Korean agriculture. An inside source in North Korea has reported that torrenting rains have affected the potato harvest in Unheung and Daehongdan in Ry...