North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has reportedly banned gatherings involving drinking and singing in new measures designed to increase control over the population.
According to intelligence briefings given to South Korean lawmakers on Monday, the move is intended to stifle the impact of crippling economic sanctions imposed on the country.
The sanctions are in retaliation for the country’s ongoing development of nuclear devices and ballistic missiles.
‘(Pyongyang) … has banned any gatherings related to drinking, singing and other entertainment and is strengthening control of outside information,’ the South Korean National Intelligence Service is reported as saying.
The move compounds the already heavily controlled conditions North Korean citizens live under.
Travel abroad is curtailed, conversations monitored and harsh punishments are regularly imposed for being in possession of media from outside of the state.
The ban comes just a few months after the Pyongyang Beer Festival was cancelled amid reports of a drought.
Meanwhile the South Korean intelligence agency also reported that top officials inside the North Korean regime were punished following an inspection of the military’s General Political Bureau – which ensures soldier’s adhere to the party line.
Those reportedly punished were the bureau’s chief Hwang Pyong So and his deputy Kim Won Hong.
It remains unclear the scope of the punishment but it could suggest a power struggle among Jong Un’s key aides.
South Korean intelligence officers are also monitoring for signs of new missile launches in the North under the guise of a space programme development.
‘The agency is closely following the developments because there is a possibility that North Korea could fire an array of ballistic missiles this year under the name of a satellite launch and peaceful development of space,’ the agency is reported as saying.