Though the hermit kingdom of North Korea is already beleaguered by reports that Chairman Kim Jong Un has died, it appears that more trouble is brewing after shoppers are reportedly "panic buying" items following an announcement of new restrictions on imports in addition to the general unrest.
According to Daily NK, North Korea's cabinet and communist party's Central Committee recently announced a number of restrictions on imports deemed to be "unnecessary." These include items like food seasoning and electronics.
"Prices of all sorts of goods have continued to increase since the announcement was made, and people are buying up what they can," described a source based in North Korea's capital city of Pyongyang.
"Rice and other farm products grown in North Korea are still available in local markets, but imported foods and condiments have doubled in price," added a second insider.
"People are saying that even if prices rise by four-fold, they'll need to buy [the products] because there won't be any left," he continued.
Moreover, a number of basic food items have either sold out or have increased in price. For example, imported flour is allegedly almost impossible to find, and the cost of containers of soybean oil has more than doubled.
Electronics and home appliances have seen similar price increases of around 63 percent.
In response to the panic buying, officials have embarked on a new propaganda campaign, urging the population to "tighten their belts" and put "trust in the party" to get through this "difficult period," just like they did during the "period of rebuilding after the Korean War."
The new measures regarding imports were reportedly implemented to help stop the spread of COVID-19 into the country.
Though it is not known how the coronavirus outbreak has affected the North Korean population, many experts believe that there has been at least some degree of transmission due to the regime's decision to close its border with China on January 31.
As a result, foreign goods had already been in short supply even before the additional restrictions.
The panic has not been helped by the rumors that Kim Jong Un had succumbed to the disease, though later reports suggested that he had actually suffered from a heart attack. Though unverified, the most recent information on the subject says that Chairman Kim is either in a vegetative state or has died after a "botched" emergency heart surgery procedure, as was previously reported by The Inquisitr.
Though there has been no confirmation of the claims, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has stated that he would be "shocked" if there were no truth to the rumors that Kim has either passed away or was in some state of incapacitation.