As the country struggles to feed its people in the midst of drought, Kim Jong Un has threatened North Koreans with punishment if they are found wasting food.
An official from the North Hamgyong province of the country told Radio Free Asia on condition of anonymity while talking about the crisis in the country.
The official said: “Earlier this month, as part of the food-saving struggle, the Central Committee [of the Korean Workers ‘ Party] directed citizens to actively engage in solving our food crisis this year,”
“The order stressed that not only does the war answer the issue of how we eat, it is a matter of defending the socialist system,” the source added. “It also threatened that authorities will intensify crackdowns and penalties for any food waste-related acts.”
This comes after three consecutive typhoons that devastated farmland and crops in August and September, with the country yet to recover from the savage economic effects of the coronavirus crisis.
In September, a defector told The Post that before fleeing the country with her family, she witnessed widespread hunger affecting millions of people.
The RFA source noted that the order for food protection came ahead of the big holidays at the end of the year.
“We were also advised by the Central Committee not to set the ceremonial table with foods made from grains. A ban on rice cakes and bread has been ordered, implying that we use only fruits and vegetables. They said that an effective way to save food is to simply serve noodles as a meal for attending guests, the source said.
The Central Committee also warns of a heavy legal penalty for those who waste food by secretly brewing grain alcohol and socially consuming it. There is also an order to crack down on the development of covert alcohol, and an inspection team has been established and is already working in some residential areas, the insider added.
A second source told RFA, also speaking on condition of anonymity, that the same order came down in the neighboring province of Ryanggang.
The source said, “Farmers who have to sell grain to buy other items they need have been very uncomfortable because rural residents are now barred from selling grain on the market.”
In order to ensure that people do not carry grain, inspectors are posted on roads just outside the downtown areas to search passing vehicles, carts and even luggage borne on people’s backs. As grains are prohibited, food prices are increasing in the market and this threatens the livelihoods of people.
“People are frustrated,” said the RFA source. “They say that regulating the distribution of food would make a bad situation for everyone even worse.”
If they are found using their rank to flout the order, officials charged with cracking down on food waste will also face harsh penalties.
“They warned that they would be subject to criticism and harshly punished if officials are found wasting food,” the source said.