N.Korea Prepares for Hard Times Amid Sanctions

      March 29, 2016 09:49

      North Korea has tightened controls and is conducting a nationwide food-saving campaign as international sanctions begin to bite.

      "The road to the revolution is long and arduous. We may have to go on an arduous march during which we have to chew the roots of plants once again," an editorial in the official Rodong Sinmun warned Monday.

      The "arduous march" was a slogan the regime put out to prettify a famine that killed millions after the death of regime founder Kim Il-sung in 1994.

      The regime has recently collected 1 kg of grain from every Pyongyang citizen every month, a source said.

      "There's a nationwide food saving campaign underway amid warnings of another food shortage over the next three years in the wake of international sanctions," the source said. "People are getting anxious because the regime is forcing farmers to give extra food donations to the military."

      The North needs 440,000 tons of food from abroad this year but had secured a mere 17,600 tons by early February, according to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization.

      North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspects a mall in Pyongyang with his wife Ri Sol-ju (right), Room 39 director Jon Il-chun (second from right) and his sister Kim Yo-jong (in red circle) in this picture from the Rodong Sinmun on Monday.

      The regime seems to be relying on antiquated propaganda formulas to secure the loyalty of citizens in hard times, aided by ratcheting up controls as a big Workers Party congress looms in May.

      "You may have a knife at your throat when you fight your enemies," the daily wrote in what sounded like a desperate appeal. "But you must remain loyal to the respected and beloved leader to the end despite the risk of death."

      During an inspection of a mall in Pyongyang on Monday, Kim was accompanied by Jon Il-chun, the director of Room 39 of the Workers Party, which handles his private coffers.

      "The international community is blocking the financial resources of Room 39 through all kinds of sanctions, but the regime is sending a message that officials have to try harder to earn hard currency," a government official here speculated.

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