Bags of candies and cookies given to North Korean children on Kim Jong-un's birthday have been notorious for their poor quality and taste.
Not anymore, according to sources familiar with Pyongyang, referring to the presents distributed Jan. 7 to mark Kim's 35th birthday.
"Biscuits, gum and various kinds of candies that Kim gave to the children have improved a lot in terms of quality and taste," a source said.
Each bag included 400 grams of sugarplum, 200 grams of rice cookies, 240 grams of biscuits, two pieces of bubble gum and two packs of peppermint gum.
The quantity is unchanged from previous years.
"But they are now more colorful. The texture of the rice cookies is especially noteworthy," another source said.
A third source added, "Cookies this year are soft and crispy, while the ones in the past were hard."
Regarding candies, it was said they do not melt as quickly as before.
"For years, Kim's gifts were unpopular and excess supply of the confections was sold in the gray markets at marked-down prices," the source said. "But the scene is expected to be quite different this year."
The quality of the candy is low, and does not taste nearly as good as Chinese imports because North Korean sweets use corn flour, the source said.
The quality problem stemmed from a long-running issue at state-run factories in North Korea.
Flour and sugar had been taken out of the factories to be resold in exchange for much-needed currency by the state, according to the sources.