Dec. 30 (UPI) -- A North Korean slush fund established exclusively for Kim Jong Un's use could be running out of money, according to a Japanese press report.
Tokyo Shimbun reported Monday "Fund No. 216," a stash of money the North Korean leader inherited from father Kim Jong Il, retains less than $1 billion.
When Kim Jong Un inherited the fund, it was worth about $4 billion to $5 billion. A North Korean source told the Japanese news service the cause of the decline in funds is international sanctions.
With less than $1 billion in No. 216, the assets are likely to be depleted within a year, the report says.
The slush fund is replenished through the regime's foreign currency earnings, which may have been heavily affected by sanctions.
Since his decision to step up construction in Samjiyon County near Mount Paektu, Kim Jong Un had required all North Korean enterprises operating overseas to contribute 1 percent of their revenues to the fund, allegedly for the Samjiyon project, the Japanese newspaper said, citing a 2016 North Korean document it obtained through a North Korean source.
The fund was set up to reward senior officials, workers and residents affiliated with Samjiyon, the Tokyo Shimbun said.
North Korea maintains other slush funds, including Room 39, which handles the regime's illicit financial activities. Room 39 is also under Kim Jong Un's direct supervision.
Pyongyang has suspended all talks with the South. A North Korean official who met with the South Korean delegation in 2018 has reappeared after a long period of absence, however.
South Korean news service News 1 reported Monday Ri Son Gwon, the North Korean chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, made a rare appearance on North Korea's central television. Ri was seen at the recent Fifth Plenary Meeting of the Seventh Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea.
Ri used disrespectful language to refer to a group of top South Korean business executives in 2018, during a noodle luncheon in Pyongyang. The incident drew public anger in the South.