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North Korea's food supply at focus of Kim Jong Un's policy

Kim Jong Un has stressed a push toward increased food production and creating a surplus that could be used to boost North Korean exports.

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited a factory specializing in food for North Korean athletes. Kim has prioritized increased food production in his economic policy. Photo by KCNA/Yonhap
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited a factory specializing in food for North Korean athletes. Kim has prioritized increased food production in his economic policy. Photo by KCNA/Yonhap

SEOUL, March 23 (UPI) -- A new North Korean policy under Kim Jong Un is placing priority on food production and offering insights into how living and eating standards are changing inside the reclusive regime.

North Korea's Central News Agency, or KCNA, reported Kim Jong Un visited a fish food factory to offer his guidance on correct production. The location of the factory was not disclosed, reported Yonhap.

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During the visit, Kim stressed the importance of producing a surplus that could be used to boost North Korean exports. He also said North Korea's Workers' Party has "firmly decided" to produce enough farmed fish to supply North Koreans for "all four seasons."

Hwang Pyong So, a veteran North Korean politician and leading general in the Korean People's Army, was seen accompanying Kim on his visit.

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Earlier on March 18, Kim Jong Un visited a food factory in Pyongyang, Yonhap reported.

The factory was described as a new and modern facility in the Nakrang district of Pyongyang, North Korea's capital. The plant processed corn, according to North Korea's Rodong Sinmun.

Corn is the most abundant staple in North Korea. The factory supplied processed corn that could be used to make corn-based noodles, corn biscuits and others kinds of food.

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Another factory was highlighted for producing modern foods that "taste good and is nutritious." A third plant was credited for producing breads, biscuits, candy, beer and ham.

The sites were presented as new innovations under Kim. The North Korean leader had said he places priority on the dietary improvements of North Koreans.

Food was also presented not as a daily necessity but also a channel of affordable leisure in the form of dining.

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An Italian restaurant in Pyongyang that first opened in 2008 was featured on Saturday during a program broadcast on North Korea's state television.

The program featured North Korean pizzas that included kimchi and crown daisy toppings. Staff member Ri Bong Nyo said the pizzas are savory and suited to the tastes of North Koreans.

The restaurant's fare also includes hamburgers and Swiss hash browns and was presented as affordable treats for ordinary North Koreans.

North Korea faced a critical food shortage from 1995 to 1998 when millions perished as floods wiped out crops. In February, The Washington Post reported 2014 was an exceptionally dry year and winter crops that include wheat and barley were not growing in sufficient quantities.

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