The dictator launched the crackdown after people were using much-needed grain supplies to produce their own alcohol. The booze ban comes as the reclusive nation struggles to cope with shortages caused by severe flooding over the summer and three typhoons in August in September which damaged farmland and destroyed crops. Citizens have been ordered to conserve food and anyone found wasting it faces “strong legal punishment”.
Directives from the Central Committee of the Korean Workers’ Party said that the protection of the socialist economy depends on citizens’ ability to conserve.
An official from North Hamgyong province told Radio Free Asia: “At the beginning of this month, the Central Committee ordered residents to actively participate in solving our food crisis this year as part of a food-saving struggle.
“The order emphasised that the struggle not only solves the problem of how we will eat, it is a matter of protecting the socialist system.
“It also warned that authorities will step up crackdowns and punishment for any actions related to food waste.”
The official said the campaign, known as the “food-saving struggle” was in response to significant decreases in grain production.
The crisis deepened when North Korea closed its border with China and suspended trade because of the coronavirus pandemic, cutting off vital supplies of food imports.
Some of North Korea’s most important year-end holidays and occasions where festive dishes are traditionally enjoyed are expected to be ruined by the crackdown.
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The official said: “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 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.
“They warned that if officials are caught wasting food, they will be subject to criticism and severely punished.”
The source said Kim should accept international food aid during times of shortage rather than force forcing people to cut back on what little they had.
North Korea has in the past urged conservation as a solution to food crises, with disastrous effects.
Millions of people died in a devastating famine that lasted from 1994 to 1998.
The source said: “People are angry, they say that controlling food distribution will make everyone’s difficult situation even worse.”