This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on August 4, 2016 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un delivering a speech at the April 25 House of Culture in Pyongyang. / AFP / KCNA / KCNA
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Food and fuel prices in North Korea have remained largely stable under leader Kim Jong Un, despite tightening international sanctions to punish the North for its nuclear and ballistic missile tests, rare data from inside the isolated country shows.While that might alleviate some concerns of critics who argue sanctions aimed at starving Pyongyang of funds for its atomic weapons program might hurt ordinary people, it may also help strengthen Kim's grip on power.A calculated average of these prices shows the market cost of goods has not markedly increased as more North Koreans are allowed to buy and sell in the unofficial economy.Rice, an important staple in North Korea, cost on average 5,240 won per kg over the last year, or around 63 cents at unofficial market rates, according to the data.A fear of shortages under sanctions pushed the average market price of petrol up by 45.1 percent in the space of a few days, according to the data.Prices returned to normal after fears about sanctions calmed.Under Kim Jong Un, North Korea has started to produce more domestically-made consumer items, from toothpaste to perfume, which could also have helped stabilize local prices.
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