Produce cultivated at the 6.17 Farm in Pyongyang, which grows vegetables and fruit for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his family, is going under strict screening for quality and harmful substances. This has prompted a spread in rumors that the leader has developed a peculiar phobia about his greens, Daily NK has learned. 

“Inspections for produce for Kim Jong Un coming out of the 6.17 Farm in Pyongyang’s Yongsong District have become stricter,” a Pyongyang source currently residing near the border area with China told Daily NK on Tuesday. “Instead of just going through farm inspections, the produce needs to go all the way up through the Escort Bureau in order to receive the green light before being presented (to the leader).” 

Another of Daily NK’s sources in the capital verified the information reported by this specific source. Any additional information on the sources is kept confidential for their protection as their reporting places them in great peril on a daily basis. 

“The produce that will go to Kim Jong Un is first washed thoroughly. It then goes through inspections by specific departments before being handed over for an executive examination and is finally being shipped out as a grade (8 or 9) product,” she said. 

"Grade 8 or 9 products are set aside for Kim Jong Un and his family. But recently, units under the Escort Bureau tasked with transporting the produce have been conducting an additional final screening."

The 6.17 Farm was built in the 1980s under orders from Kim Jong Il, according to the source. The farm, said to produce superior fruits and vegetables in greenhouses scattered across an estate of 6 hectares nestled in the mountains, got its name from a mandate issued by the former leader to provide the best possible produce for his father, Kim Il Sung. 

There are five units, each comprising approximately 80 workers, tasked with growing different produce on the farm. Farm researchers frequently travel abroad for their work to study a wide array of fruits and vegetables as well as the feasibility of growing them back in North Korea.

“The carefully selected vegetables are examined by their respective units each day before undergoing final inspection. Microscopes are used to look for germs, toxins, and other harmful elements,” she explained. “The Escort Bureau officials reexamine the produce every day at 10:00 a.m. before shipping out the ones that pass final inspections, so the produce is provided on a day-to-day basis.” 

The workers growing produce for Kim Jong Un are people with good songbun [family political background and loyalty] and are usually single people in their 20s, according to the source. “Inspectors are Pyongyang citizens with immaculate songbun and status who have graduated from Pyongyang Medical University; they’ll spend minutes on one single leaf of lettuce.” 

“Inspections were strict during Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il’s times, but the atmosphere of inspections under Kim Jong Un is as if the state is looking to catch spies,” the source said, adding that workers have commented on these stepped up examinations saying Kim Jong Un not only fears instabilities in the system but has now come to even fear his own greens.

The 6.17 Farm is under the Mt. Keumsoo Assembly Hall accounting department and is referred to as the ‘“6-hectares” by members of the public. Others places designated for food and produce specifically for Kim Jong Un and others in the higher echelons of power in North Korea are Pyongyang’s Yongsong Special Food Factory, the Yeokpo Precinct Pig Farm, and the Yeokpo Precinct Mushroom Research Center. (Daily NK)