North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has banned drinking and singing parties as economic sanctions begin to bite, South Korean spies have claimed.
The South’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) told parliament Pyongyang was trying to prevent dissent among its citizens as UN sanctions – imposed after repeated missile and nuclear weapons tests – begin to affect its economy.
According to Yonhap, the NIS told MPs: “[The North] has devised a system whereby party organs report people’s economic hardships on a daily basis, and it has banned any gatherings related to drinking, singing and other entertainment and is strengthening control of outside information.”
The report comes as China’s ambassador to the UK called sanctions “a means, not a purpose”, adding that more rounds should not be imposed for their own sake.
China has consistently voted to support UN sanctions since 2006, and 16 such restrictions have been imposed in that time, Liu Xiaoming told Robert Peston on Sunday.
US President Donald Trump named China and Russia specifically during his recent tour of the Asia-Pacific region as countries that should sever trade ties with North Korea “entirely”.
He has previously criticised China for failing to do enough to persuade its communist neighbour to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
South Korea’s NIS said that while there had been no sign of preparations for a new nuclear test in the North, “we forecast that depending upon North Korean leader Kim’s determination, a nuclear test is possible any time”.
Pyongyang has also punished senior officials in its military’s General Political Bureau, according to Yonhap, but what this entailed the NIS could not reportedly say.
The bureau manages personnel for a number of other key military bodies.