North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to punish any North Korean caught wasting food as the country struggles to feed her population amid famine.
Speaking about the country’s economic crisis, a North Korean official told Radio Free Asia on condition of anonymity,
“At the beginning of this month, the Central Committee [of the Korean Workers’ Party] ordered residents to actively participate in solving our food crisis this year as part of a food-saving struggle,”
“The order emphasized that the struggle not only solves the problem of how we will eat, it is a matter of protecting the socialist system,” the source added. “It also warned that authorities will step up crackdowns and punishment for any actions related to food waste.”
The warning comes after three consecutive typhoons in August and September destroyed farmlands and crops while the country still battles the devastating economic impact of coronavirus pandemic
A North Korean defector told The Post in September that she witnessed widespread starvation affecting millions of people before fleeing the country with her family.
RFA’s source noted that the food conservation order came ahead of major year-end holidays.
“The Central Committee also instructed us not to set the ceremonial table with foods made from grains. They have ordered a ban on rice cakes and bread, suggesting we use only fruits and vegetables. They said that simply serving noodles as a meal to attending guests is an important way to save food,” the source said.
“The Central Committee is also warning of strong legal punishment for those who waste food by secretly brewing alcohol from grains and drinking socially. There’s even an order to crack down on covert alcohol production, and an inspection team has been formed and are already operating in some residential areas,” the insider added.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a second person told RFA that the same order came down in the neighboring Ryanggang province.
“Farmers who have to sell grain to purchase other things they need have been greatly inconvenienced because rural residents are now prohibited from selling grain on the market,” that source said.
“Inspectors are stationed on roads just outside the downtown areas to check passing cars, carts and even luggage carried on people’s backs, to ensure people don’t transport grain. Food prices are rising in the market as grains are forbidden, and this threatens residents’ livelihoods.”
“People are angry,” the source told RFA. “They say that controlling food distribution will make everyone’s difficult situation even worse.”