Thursday, June 12, 2008

North Korea's Food Crisis

A South Korean human rights group Good Friends has released what it says are video interviews with influential North Koreans to underscore their urgent plea for international food aid for the North. The group implies they are North Korean officials-- describing them only as "substantially" influential in the North.

In some districts, workers have not received a month's worth of rations. "This is the reason why workers are not coming to their factories,” an unidentified Korean said.

The group says one or two people are dying each day in every district of several of North Korea's southern provinces, which were hardest hit by last year's heavy flooding. One North Korean man says farmers have consumed all of their seed corn and grain and are suffering the most.

Hunger has also brought education to a halt. "Teachers are saying that if food conditions remain in this precarious state, children will not report to school regularly,” another said. “When the teachers try to get the students to come to school, they are always told that either the children have to go begging for food with their parents, or that they are lying in bed because of starvation."

Good Friends says the hunger problem is compounded by North Korea's unequal food distribution system, which ranks ordinary civilians far below party officials and members of the military. The system excludes farmers altogether.

[Excerpt of an article by Kurt , Voice of America]

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