N. Korean engaged in fund collection drive to pay for year-end events: report
TOKYO, Dec. 18 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is engaged in a fundraising drive to pay for state year-end events, a sign that the reclusive country is feeling the pinch of global economic sanctions, a Japanese newspaper said Sunday.
According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, Pyongyang has been collecting money from all households since November, with each required to pay some US$0.70 to the state. The report was based on sources with ties to North Korea.
The media report claimed the authorities were asking people to pay so the country can mark North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's fifth year in office. The incumbent leader officially took control of the country on Dec. 30, 2011, following the sudden death of his father Kim Jong-il.
Details on what kind of event is being planned were not mentioned.
It said that while the exact value of the money being collected can differ based on which exchange rate is being used, the sum may be equivalent or even exceed 10 days worth of spending by an average farming household.
Yomiuri said that a government official in North Pyongan Province complained to a Chinese associate that many people were just getting by on a daily basis, without new demands.
The paper said that the country seems to be suffering from a cash shortage problem and that the more stringent sanctions passed by the United Nations last month will make things harder. The North has repeatedly rejected calls to give up its nuclear weapons program in the past.
This year alone, the country detonated two nukes despite warnings from the international community. Since 2006, the country tested a total of five nuclear devices and fired off numerous ballistic missiles.