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Money and Shopping in North Korea


Money and Shopping in North Korea

In 2002 Foreign Exchange Certificates (FEC) were abolished and along with them went all the different coloured currencies. Now there is just the standard North Korean won, which officially trades at 900 per 1USD or 1310 per 1 euro (April 2011). Black market rates (especially in far northern Korea, near the Chinese border) are more favorable, but importing or exporting Korean won is strictly forbidden. Conversely, were you to sneak out some won, they are practically worthless outside the country, but make unique souvenirs. In reality, foreigners are expected to use Euros or as an alternative Chinese RMB, US Dollars, or Japanese Yen. Getting the local money is possible, but it is difficult to use as the shops all want foreign currency. Currency handling is often bizarre, with a frequent lack of change and a number of rule-of-thumb conversions leading to highly unorthodox transactions. So be sure to bring lots of small change. On the other hand, since you will already have paid in advance for your hotel, transportation, and meals, your only expenses will be bottled water, souvenirs, snacks, drinks at the bars, laundry at the hotel (which is as expensive as in Europe), and tips for your guides. In any case, the only shops you will be likely allowed to visit are the state-run souvenir shops at your hotel and at the various tourist attractions. It is generally impossible to visit a real local shop which serves the local population, though you might get lucky asking your guide if he/she trusts you enough.

The Most Frequently Asked Travel Questions about North Korea


Where To Stay & Best Hotels in North Korea - updated Apr 2020

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North Korea Travel Guide from Wikitravel. Many thanks to all Wikitravel contributors. Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0, images are available under various licenses, see each image for details.

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