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North Korean shoppers use barcodes to find South Korean goods

The demand for South Korean-manufactured goods in North Korea is rising. Consumers in North Korea have learned that the first two digits of a product’s barcode serves as the country code, identifying the origin of the company that made the product. While the sale of South Korean products is expressly forbidden by the North Korean authorities, consumers in the past have euphemistically referred to such items as “products from our Southern neighbors,” or “clothes without tags,” in order to circumvent uncomfortable accusations. But a new expression is rising to prominence these days. The number 88 is the country code that indicates a company is of South Korean origin.

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