North Koreans are “devastated” following currency reforms that could wipe out their savings, reports say.
Ordinary people are reported to be desperately trying to buy as many goods as they can with the old currency while it is still valid.
The government told its people on Monday that it was knocking two noughts off the nominal value of banknotes.
Experts say this will help tackle inflation and increase officials’ control over an already impoverished population.
They say the Pyongyang government particularly wants to rein in the activities of free markets that have sprung up across North Korea.
The North Korean government was initially quiet about the reform – telling its own people, but not the rest of the world.
But on Friday South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said a Japan-based newspaper with links to the North had confirmed the news.
Yonhap quoted an interview the newspaper had conducted with a North Korean central bank official.
The North Korean banker said international sanctions, natural disasters and the fall of the communist bloc had created economic hardship.
This has forced the North to adjust its currency, Yonhap quoted the official as saying.
Under the new system, an old 1,000 North Korean won note will now be worth just 10 won.