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Gifts for N. Korean children on founder's birthday unpopular, low quality

All News 13:54 April 29, 2016

SEOUL, April 29 (Yonhap) -- North Korea distributed sweetmeats and cookies to its children as gifts to celebrate the country's founding leader's birthday on April 15, but they were unpopular due to their poor quality, a U.S. radio outlet said Friday.

A North Korean source claimed recently that some of the confectionery gifts reached the open market, but they were seldom sold despite price discounts, the Washington-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported.

North Korea commemorates the birthday of Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un, as a major holiday. It is also called the Day of the Sun.

According to the source from North Hamgyong Province, some of the gifts were secretly selling at "jangmadang," market places in the North where local merchants gather to sell and trade goods in open fields.

"But they did not sell well because the quality was so low compared to Chinese confectionery," the source told the RFA.

A one-kilogram bag containing 500 grams of sweetmeats and 500 grams of cookies sells for 10,000 to 12,000 North Korean won, but few actually looked at them, according to the source familiar with North Korean affairs.

He said their poor quality was due to the use of corn flour rather than wheat flour, the key raw material for making confectionery.

"Many food and confectionery factory managers and workers there siphoned off wheat flour for other purposes or for their own profits," the source said.

Another source, meanwhile, told the RFA that the North Korean law enforcement authorities have begun to clamp down on secret transactions of the confectionery at jangmadang and other stores.

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