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Kim Jong-un declared a national emergency this week in the wake of 50 consecutives days of torrential rainfall, after it caused such heavy flooding that more than 154 square miles of farmland was obliterated. Recently, it was also revealed that the North Korean leader ordered all pet dogs to be confiscated by authorities and sold to restaurants to be served as meat. Food shortages have been a regular issue of the dictatorship’s 72-year-reign, with it estimated that they have a produce deficit between one and two million metric tonnes of produce every year. In the past, many have blamed excessive military spending and the determination to develop a nuclear weapons missile program for the nation’s plight. But unearthed accounts reveal another reason for the deficit in funds – leaders lavish lifestyles, expensive tastes and barbaric parties.
Famine has remained a major problem for the hermit kingdom since the Nineties but even under their most recent ruler Kim Jong-un, the issues seem unlikely to end.
Last year the nation suffered their worst harvest in over a decade, which forced South Korea to send more than £6million ($8million) of food.
The United Nations estimated that 10.5 million people were “malnourished” – around 41 percent of the population – in a 2017 report.
While North Korea rarely asks for the help of the outside world, UNICEF, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and a number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) regularly provide aid to the state.
One cause speculated to be behind the impoverished conditions is the misuse of wealth, which stretches from the rule of the nation’s founder Kim Il-sung to the present day leader.
According to the 2015 International Trade Centre Map, Kim Jong-un was revealed to have splurged millions on unnecessary luxuries.
While many in the nation survived on measly food hand-outs of 650grams of maize, rice and meat – the ruler satisfied his lavish tastes.
He was reported to have spent £5.5million ($7.27m) on imports from Germany alone – his lengthy shopping list included ultra-high-end spirits, wine and beer.
Kim Jong-un also frittered away £8million ($10.6m) on luxury pepper and more than £66,000 ($87,000) on special imported cheese, which he developed a taste for while he studied in Switzerland.
Millions more was spent on the highest quality watches, fishing rods, umbrellas, horses, perfumes, make-up, hair-care products and more.
His exuberant tastes match those of his father, the former leader Kim Jong-il, who was known to throw elaborate parties with his generals.
The ruler, who died in 2011, was the “world’s greatest consumer” of Hennesey’s Paradis Cognac and imported £530,000 ($700,000) worth every year.
He was also known to be an “inveterate gift-giver” to those “who pleased him”, according to Chris Mikul who penned ‘My Favourite Dictators’ last year.
Mikul wrote: “[Kim Jong-il] handed out Mercedes Benz cars, Omega watches, Japanese television sets and other sought after consumer items to those in his good books.
“He also had notoriously expensive tastes. He loved French wines, and he had a cellar stocked with ten thousand bottles.”
During North Korean founder Kim Il-sung’s reign, the leader held “infamous drinking parties” on a weekly basis in a Pyongyang building known as the ‘Fish House’ because of it’s “floor-to-ceiling aquariums”.
He would deliberately show-up late to the events to observe government officials and military men while they were drunk.
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Mr Mikul wrote: “As he sipped cognac, he directed proceedings, requesting the band to play his favourite South Korean songs – which the rest of the population would be arrested for listening to.
“There were always dancing girls present and Kim would sometimes tell them to strip naked, then ordered his embarrassed guests to dance with them.
“He thought that observing people drunk was an excellent way to judge their characters, and it was understood that guests at the parties could say whatever they wanted to each other.”
The leader was also alleged to have conducted official business during these booze-filled sessions “issuing orders which were written down and quickly actioned, despite the fact that he might have no memory of them when he sobered up.”
Mr Mikul continued: “Guests at the drinking parties were sworn to the strictest secrecy, and Kim Il-sung knew nothing about them.”
One attempt to derail his frivolous spending, a letter sent to the then-leader by the wife of a secretary who attended the parties, was intercepted by Kim Jong-il.
She was arrested and whether she is still alive today is unknown, because at another party the future ruler allegedly declared that she would be “shot there and then”.
Mr Mikul wrote: “He husband, stepping up to the plate, begged kim for the honour of shooting her himself and Kim handed him a gun.”
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