Local governments in North Korea prepare sweets to prepare national leader’s birthday celebration Kim Jong Un in January, but the government is forcing hungry people to pay for it, sources in the country told RFA.
At a time when the North Korea Fighting food shortages that are said to be almost as severe as the famine of the 1990s, the nationwide bakery program has dealt a huge blow to flour and sugar supplies, doubling prices and channeling money away from the people who need them to buy food for themselves.
“As of Monday, the price of a kilo of flour has jumped from 12,000 won ($ 2.40) to 30,000 won ($ 6). “The price of sugar has also jumped from 13,000 won to 25,000 won,” he told Korean Service of RFA a resident of Unsan, in its province South Pyongyang, north of the capital Pyongyang.
“All because the central government ordered each province to produce and supply sweets as gifts for the children from Kim Jong Un for his birthday on January 8, “said the source, who asked not to be named for security reasons.
The gift of sweets to children on or around the birthday of the country leader or his predecessors has been a long tradition in the north, dating back to the time of his grandfather Kim, the founder of the country Kim Il Sung.
At the beginning of his rule Kim Jong Un, sweets were given to expectant mothers and students in kindergartens and elementary schools on January 8, but from 2019, the government extended the gifts to every child across the country, which would be received on January 1.
“The amount of imported flour and sugar circulating in local markets is very limited because cross-border trade has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. “Prices for flour and sugar will continue to rise until food factories complete the production of sweets,” said the source from regards.
The current economic catastrophe and widespread food shortages are due to its closed borders. North Korea with the China and the suspension of any trade with Beijing at the beginning of the pandemic, almost two years ago.
The lack of food imports to bridge the gap between domestic production and demand made the shortages more pronounced. The largest supply of sugar before the pandemic came from China, according to the source.
As prices rise, some local governments are forcing citizens to pay for ingredients.
“Food factories in the county Uiju started making sweets for his birthday present Kim Jong UnHe told RFA a resident of the county in the county North Pyongan, in the northwest of the country.
“For the purchase of raw materials, the county party immediately imposed a tax of 5,000 won on each household,” said the second source, who requested anonymity to speak freely.
The local government has until December 20 to complete production, so it has begun to directly control the distribution of all flour and sugar in the county to ensure enough of each ingredient in food factories, according to the second source.
The result was even less flour and sugar reaching the markets.
“They even asked each house to provide an egg for the production of sweets. “As people have to buy them for donation, the market ends with eggs,” said the second source.
“Residents are angry that the authorities are emptying people’s pockets at such a time to make sweets for the children, who are supposed to Kim Jong Un gives for his birthday “.