By the time a North Korean reaches age 7, the child most likely stands about half a foot shorter than were he living south of the 38th Parallel [in South Korea].
Famine, extreme climates and brutal work camps all contribute to devastating health conditions in North Korea, human rights and medical experts told military medical personnel at Yongsan Garrison.
Lack of food accounts for the stunted growth, according to Tim Peters, founder of a group in Seoul that helps North Korean citizens and refugees. Almost 40 percent of people assigned to labor camps in North Korea die from exhaustion, he said.
And it’s common for young boys to develop liver problems, he said, because they drink large quantities of liquor in the winter in hopes of feeling warm.
“Just getting across the river is not the hardest obstacle” for North Korean refugees, Peters told a group of about 100 medical professionals gathered at Yongsan to learn about the latest developments in military medicine.
[Excerpt from an article by Teri Weaver, Stars and Stripes]