This is not Pyongyang's first reevaluation, but it's the first time the regime acts so recklessly in that matter.
The population was granted one week to replace their old wons with the new and improved currency. Failure to do so would leave them with almost worthless notes (1 new NK won = 100 old NK won).
Officially, the aim of the game is to crack down abuses from people perverted by capitalism, or at least the little of it which made its way into what was left of the local economy. No one will come with a lot of money without good explanations.
But the actual profiteers of NK's corrupt system (in particular the nomenklatura) already changed their cash into US dollars or Chinese yuans, well ahead of the announcement. The only victims will be those who will opt for transparency.
This measure follows closings of parallel markets, safety valves for populations every day more left to their own devices... or rather lack of.
According to South Korean medias, the country would be on the verge of revolt, and streets littered with old bank notes deliberately torn in the middle of Kim Jong-il's portraits. Military forces received the order to shoot at sight anyone who tries to escape the last Stalinian paradise.
If Pyongyang authorities really want to accelerate takeover from China*, that's a smart move...
blogules 2009 - also on blogules V.F. ("La Coree du Nord evalue mal les effets de sa reevaluation") and on Seoul Village ("North Korea's lost Won")
* see "KIM Jong-il's bridge to nowhere"
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