Friday, July 17, 2009

North Korea facing worst crisis since 1994

North Korea faces its worst crisis in more than a decade due to the protracted conflict with the international community over its nuclear ambitions, according to Yonhap News citing a report by the Korea Development Institute, a South Korean state-run think tank.

The prediction is North Korea’s economy will decline in the second half of this year if Pyongyang fails to resolve the nuclear issue. And it will not have enough food to feed its people.Despite reports of a good harvest in the North last year thanks to favorable weather conditions, the KDI implies that a food shortage would still impact many North Koreans "depending on their social status and where they live."

The report comes amid growing tension on the Korean Peninsula following the North's second nuclear test in May, which drew condemnations and fresh sanctions from the U.N. Security Council. The KDI cited the sanctions and strained inter-Korean relations as reasons for its bleak outlook for the North Korean economy in the second half. Uncertainties surrounding leader Kim Jong-il's health were also mentioned, amid rumors he has developed pancreatic cancer.

"With all of these factors combined, the current difficulties confronting North Korea can be compared to conditions back in 1994, when Kim Il-sung died and a nuclear crisis was sparked" the KDI said in the report, which assesses trends in the communist country. "It will be much more difficult to reach a breakthrough (than it was in 1994)," it added.

[The Korean Herald]

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