Power-Starved North Koreans Prefer LEDs over Incandescent Bulbs

An unusual emerging LED market has appeared in North Korea as more residents turn to the power efficient light source from China, according to a Radio Free Asia report.

North Koreans are opting the more expensive LED bulbs that can cost about RMB 10 (US $1.60), compared to cheap incandescent bulbs (RMB 3) because it is more power efficient.

In a nation with strained power grids and frequent power shortages, LED bulbs that operate at low voltages of around 70 volts is becoming a popular commodity, according to RFA sources.

Most North Korea households fail to receive full 220 volts required to operate most electrical appliances including incandescent bulbs. Typically most North Korean households are only receiving 170 volts in summer and 100 during winter.

Even though the North Korean government claims to have vamped up LED bulb production in February 2014, many citizens are seeking out Chinese LED bulbs from Jagang Province.

“Recently, there has been a rapid increase in the number of people seeking LED bulbs,” said a source from North Korea’s Jagang province, near the border with China, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Merchants are rushing from far inland to [Jagang’s border city of] Manpo to purchase the bulbs.”

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