Wigs and false eyelashes help N Korea prevent economic collapse

08-May-2019 Intellasia | The Telegraph | 6:00 AM Print This Post

North Korea is increasingly turning to wigs and false eyelashes to stave off an economic crisis that threatens to bring down the regime of Kim Jong-un.

Unlike coal, minerals, food and other exports that Pyongyang has traditionally relied on to earn foreign currency, items that incorporate synthetic hair are classified as craft products and are not therefore banned from export under United Nations sanctions.

Taking advantage of this loophole, state-owned factories in North Korea are raising production and setting up partnerships with Chinese middlemen in border cities such as Dandong, boosting their exports by 100 per cent.

Prices are relatively cheap and the North Korean traders’ margins are slender, but their products are apparently sought-after because they are of good quality, Japan’s Asahi newspaper reported.

It added that paperwork with the wigs and false eyelashes are in Japanese, raising the possibility that the Chinese middlemen could be exporting them to Japan. It is also possible that “Made in China” labels could be attached to the items to make them more appealing to chains of personal care stores around the world, as has happened with other products in the past, including clothing.

China has largely been adhering to international sanctions imposed on Kim’s regime over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, with North Korean exports to China plummeting 88 per cent in 2018 from the previous year.

In February, North Korea exported goods valued at about GBP 13.69 million to China, with processed hair products accounting for more than 10 percent of the total. Hair products only made up half that figure in the same month one year previously.

Sanctions are increasingly having an impact on the North Korean regime and the lives of its people, with coal mines and state-run factories shut down, workers failing to turn up to their jobs in order to make more money in the markets and reports that schoolchildren are skipping classes to go door-to-door in Pyongyang selling charcoal.

One North Korean trader told the Asahi that the electronic components factory he managed was unable to operate because it lacked raw materials and had switched to making wigs and false eyelashes.

There are no firm outward indications that an economic collapse is imminent, although two years of sanctions have forced the government to reiterate calls for “self-reliance” and sacrifice for the “treasured sword of prosperity” in the future.

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/wigs-false-eyelashes-help-north-072717619.html

 


Category: Korea

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