Why North Korea is urging citizens to make manure from their poo

·2-min read

North Korea is reportedly administering a bizarre directive to millions of people, giving them an incentive to spend more time in the bathroom.

From December 3 until January 10, the "battle of manure" ensued in North Korea, where citizens had to fulfil a quota to help the country through its manure shortage.

According to Daily NK, each household had to produce 200kg of excrement, while factories and enterprises had to provide 500kg of manure per person.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, centre, attends a meeting of the Central Committee.
Citizens in North Korea had a manure quota, amid shortages due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Source: Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP

Last year, citizens were producing manure from human waste, the Daily NK reported in January 2021.

While there seems to have been some sort of manure quota for quite some time, this year's quota is significantly higher, which would be because North Korea closed its borders during the Covid-19 pandemic stunting the supply of manure and many other imports.

This isn't the first time North Korea has asked for something a little out of the ordinary from its citizens.

Last year, Radio Free Asia reported that each farmer in North Korea was required to donate at least two litres of urine to make fertiliser.

A source told Radio Free Asia farmers were told to use their own urine and faeces mixed with humus to make compost.

The Daily Beast notes it is not clear how people are meant to meet their quota, however the term "homemade" is thrown around a lot in local media.

A general view shows residents working on farmland in Gaepung county on the North Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), as seen from Aeigibong Peace Ecopark in Gimpo.
If people don't meet their quota, they won't be able to go to the markets. Source: AFP via Getty Images

"Homemade" manure could consist of excrement from humans or animal, mixed in with other things such as garbage.

To ensure people are meeting their quotas, somewhat of a "manure pass" has been enforced.

North Korea is only allowing people who have fulfilled their manure quota to enter markets, Daily NK reported.

In addition to only allowing people who have met their quota into the markets, in the lead-up to January 11, market opening hours were cut by an hour, so people had more time to meet their quota.

One person from North Korea who has a market stall told Daily NK they were so busy trying to reach their manure quota they were unable to engage in market activity.

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