As North Korea finds it increasingly difficult to feed its own people, the so-called Hermit Kingdom has ordered its diplomats to ask countries overseas for food handouts.
Calling the development "highly unusual," The Guardian reported Thursday that the totalitarian regime's order to secure as much rice as possible may have gone out in December:
"This year, all 40 North Korean embassies have been ordered by Pyongyang to ask governments for food. They have each been given a quota," an Asian diplomat said.
The regime is also hoping to raise much-needed foreign cash from its officially sanctioned global chain of North Korean restaurants.
The insular country relies on unproductive collectivist farming and outdated equipment. North Korea has grappled with famine since the mid-1990s—as many as 2 million of its citizens have starved to death.
The country usually relies on handouts from the U.N., but the global body hasn't raised enough funds to meet Korea's food needs this year. The U.N. has been warning for months that it was running out of food aid for the desperate nation.