This is on top of existing international economic sanctions over Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.
Earlier this week, Mr Kim had warned the country faced the “worst-ever situation” and “unprecedentedly numerous challenges”.
There have been warnings for months that the people of North Korea are struggling.
Reports of hardship appear to becoming especially from towns near the Chinese border, where smuggling would have been a huge earner for many.
The price of corn, the staple diet for most of rural North Korea, has reportedly fluctuated enormously and at times a kilogram of corn has cost more than a month’s wages.
Lina Yoon, a researcher from Human Rights Watch (HRW), said in a recent report citing unnamed contacts in the country that “there is barely any food going into the country from China”.
“There are so many more beggars, some people died from hunger in the border area, and there’s no soap, toothpaste, or batteries,” she wrote.
The UN Special Rapporteur on North Korean Human Rights, Tomás Ojea Quintana, warned last month in a report of a “serious food crisis” already leading to malnourishment and starvation.
“Deaths by starvation have been reported, as has an increase in the number of children and elderly people who have resorted to begging as families are unable to support them.”
It is unclear whether any aid at all is currently coming into the country. North Korea has rejected offers of external aid and almost all diplomats and aid workers, including staff of the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), have left.
Reports suggest North Korea restricted imports of staple foods from China last August and then cut almost all trade, including food and medicines, in October.
North Korea was also hit by two major storms last summer, which caused flooding that is believed to have damaged crops, exacerbating the shortages.