The pandemic has wreaked havoc on North Korea's food supply, the result of a domino effect of sorts: With the nation's borders closed, it can't import the manure it needs for its crops from China. The hunt for that stinky commodity has now reached "crisis level," and desperate times are apparently leading to desperate measures: There's now a call for what state-run media calls "homemade" manure, which the Daily Beast describes as "manure made from excrement of any kind, human or animal, together with weeds, garbage, and even ash rich in chemical."
In other words, it appears that Kim Jong Un wants citizens to poop as much as possible in order to help salvage this year's crops and eliminate the widespread food shortages. In certain regions, it even seems there are quotas, with the Daily NK reporting individuals and families are being squeezed for money if they don't produce a satisfactory amount of excrement. In North Hamgyong province, for example, where the "battle for manure" challenge was said to have taken place from Dec. 3 through Jan. 10, each household in a regular neighborhood was expected to come up with about 440 pounds of manure over that period.
Making things more stressful, the Daily NK reports that as of Jan. 11, markets in Yanggang province are only allowing in people who have a "manure pass," which shows they've fulfilled their manure quota. Although the pandemic is getting much of the blame for this poop push, a 2019 report from Radio Free Asia shows this manure quota isn't new, and that at that time, the demands seemed especially onerous, with the government ordering individuals to produce 220 pounds of human manure per day—or 3 tons a month. "How on earth can it be possible for one person to make 3 tons of human feces and deliver it?" a source noted. (Read more North Korea stories.)