The message “Kim Jong-un, you son of a b****. The people are starving to death because of you”, was found daubed on the wall of an apartment in the Pyongchon district on December 22, the Daily NK news website has reported. Local authorities acted quickly by cordoning off the area and erasing the message, but not soon enough for some people to reveal the information to the Seoul-based media outlet. Sources have claimed since the incident, officials have been going door-to-door in nearby apartment blocks and businesses to demand handwriting samples.
They have also reportedly been questioning locals about their whereabouts on the day the graffiti appeared.
This graffiti incident comes with North Korea facing an oncoming food shortage crisis amid border closures linked to the Covid pandemic.
The country is short 860,000 tonnes of produce this year alone, equal to around 2.3 months of food, according to estimates from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor at Tokyo’s Waseda University and the author of a number of books on the Kim dynasty, warned even the capital’s wealthiest are now suffering from a shortage of food, medicine, and fuel to heat their homes during the freezing winter months.
Kim himself has looked visibly slimmer in rare pictures over recent months, fuelling rumours he has been suffering from undisclosed health issues.
Professor Shigemura told The Daily Telegraph: “To have a message such as this appear on a wall in Pyongyang will have been a shock to the authorities and to ordinary people.
“It is expected that the people there are loyal because their lives are better than those elsewhere, so the authorities will be worried that the elite are unhappy.
“I think a lot of people who saw the graffiti will have agreed with it, but they would have been too scared to say so out loud.”
But in extreme cases, the punishment can be even worse – a death sentence.
As a result of these heavy punishments, anti-Kim graffiti is a rare occurrence and are particularly unusual in Pyongyang, where only the elite are allowed to live.
The last known instance of such an incident happened in March 2018, when a found guilty of writing slogans on the April 24 House of Culture in central Pyongyang and was subsequently publicly executed.