In a litany of horrors documented by undercover reporters, another man dug up his grandchild's corpse for food and a third, driven mad by hunger, boiled his own child and ate the flesh.
The stories were collected by Asia Press, a specialist news agency based in Osaka, Japan, which has a network of "citizen journalists" inside North Korea and is regarded as credible.
Dozens of interviews and clandestine reports have led it to conclude that "considerable numbers of people" - probably more than 10,000 - have died in North and South Hwanghae provinces, south of Pyongyang, the capital.
North Korea has not officially confirmed any deaths. A government-supervised mission by the UN last September reported a food surplus in both provinces, yet the clandestine reporting depicts a pattern of misery and death while Kim Jong-un, the country's leader, spent lavishly on banquets and missile tests. One informant, an official in South Hwanghae, said: "In my village in May, a man who killed his own two children and tried to eat them was executed by a firing squad.
"But his wife, suspicious, notified the Ministry of Public Security, which led to the discovery of part of their children's bodies under the eaves.""While his wife was away on business he killed his eldest daughter and, because his son saw what he had done, he killed his son as well. When the wife came home, he offered her food, saying: 'We have meat.'
In its detailed 12-page report, Asia Press identifies reporters and sources by pseudonyms. "Particularly shocking were the numerous testimonies that hit us about cannibalism," said the agency's Jiro Ishimaru.
Gu Gwang-ho, one of the reporters in North Korea, wrote: "There was an incident when a man was arrested for digging up the grave of his grandchild and eating the remains."
In May in Haeju, South Hwanghae's main city, a man who had killed 11 people and sold the meat as pork was executed by firing squad.
"In a village in Chongdan county, a man who went mad with hunger boiled his own child, ate his flesh and was arrested," said a mid-ranking official of the ruling Korean Workers Party.
These incidents reportedly took place as Mr Kim, 30, marked his ascent to power with a new image, a glamorous wife and two costly rocket launches.
Last week, he followed these with a defiant pledge to retaliate against the latest UN sanctions by staging a third nuclear weapons test "aimed at the United States".
Early last year, officials confiscated food from farm collectives in North and South Hwanghae to supply the army and reward the privileged residents of Pyongyang for their loyalty to the Kim dynasty, the undercover reporters say.
But then a drought struck and, from April to June, farmers and their families in these "breadbasket" provinces began to die.
"One family was completely wiped out, everyone died of starvation, while another family gave up hope of living and killed themselves," said Gu.
A hospital administrator said there was no wood for coffins or cremations, so the dead had been wrapped in straw mats and tipped into an unmarked common grave.
"The farming villages I visited from May to June were in such a tragic state that I had to cover my eyes," the party official added. "There was no food at all. Casting out elderly parents or abandoning children was nothing rare."
"Political waste" on celebrations and extra rations for Pyongyang were key factors, according to the reporters.
Mr Kim, a plump, beaming figure, ordered new apartment blocks, imported equipment for a fairground and a dolphinarium, staged lavish festivities and appeared at a pop concert with his pregnant wife.
"The smooth transfer of power . . . was the top priority," according to the reporters. The famine in the Hwanghae provinces has passed its peak, the reports say. It is probable that when the UN team visited the area in the autumn, it was shown no evidence of it.
Japanese government sources say North Korea has developed a compact nuclear weapon that can fit on to a missile capable of reaching the US's west coast. The device may be equal in force to the atomic bomb that destroyed the city of Nagasaki in 1945, the sources told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.
As Mr Kim celebrates his first year in power, it is clear thousands have paid for his adventures.