SEOUL, North Korea recently held a large-scale culinary competition ahead of founder Kim Il Sung’s birthday. But the food extravaganza comes at a time when rationing has declined in the country.
The annual event, now in its 21st year, was held April 6-8, South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported.
More than 60 North Korean agencies and organizations were in attendance at the Day of The Sun cuisine festival, and entries included Western dishes such as pizza and cakes.
A total of 1,200 dishes were being judged, according to DPRK Today.
Chung Yeong-gyo, a researcher at the Unification Culture Research Institute at the JoongAng, stated the event’s theme was “strong efforts come first.” The new concept, introduced for the first time in 2016, is similar to the North Korean ideology of “self-reliance,” Chung wrote.
On Sunday state newspaper Rodong Sinmun introduced the event to readers: “Even our food culture must be developed in our style, through our efforts and skills, that way it would be more valuable.”
There are other uses for the culinary competition.
Cho Bong-hyun, a senior research fellow at Industrial Bank of Korea in Seoul, said the televised footage of the culinary festival is being used as a tool in North Korea’s “image politics,” or propaganda.
North Korea is still facing food shortages, and between 2014 and 2015, North Korean wheat and barley yields dropped 32 percent. Potato output was down by 20 percent in that same period.
The Food and Agriculture Organization’s Global Information and Early Warning System officer in charge of East Asia, Cristina Coslet, told Voice of America the North has reduced official rations to 370 grams daily per person.
The U.N. recommended amount is 600 grams daily per person.