SEOUL, South Korea -- Dec. 5 The average North Korean is increasingly feeling the squeeze of international sanctions placed on the Pyongyang regime, the Asahi Shimbun reported Tuesday.
Citing various North Korea-related sources, the Japanese daily reported that the economic losses and waning inflow of foreign currency has worsened the divide between the working class and the privileged minority.
The shortage of power is a clear example. While extravagant firework displays lit up the skies of the North Korean capital last week, celebrating the recent launch of the Hwaseong-14 ICBM, average Pyongyang residents have been experiencing a blackout.
Most North Koreans can use electricity for just one to two hours a day, as fees have recently surged to unaffordable level, according to the sources.
Radio Free Asia reported last month that electricity costs had skyrocketed 300 to 3,000 times in the North.
Only the privileged class of high-ranking officials can turn on power between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. each day.
Harsher living conditions have caused drug use to become rampant in many regional cities, a North Korean defector told Asahi Shimbun.
The report also says the high-ranking officials are also on edge.
The burden of economic sanctions has apparently driven Kim Jong Un to consume more alcohol, leading to inconsistencies in his instructions.
With Kim's track record in replacing or removing those who irk or disobey him, even those in his closest circle are reportedly concerned they may irk the young leader.