Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Starvation and death in North Korea: “We live like dogs”

Near where the Chinese border meets North Korea, we met some who had recently escaped from North Korea. All told us that hunger and starvation are returning to their country.

"Recently people started dying. If there's no food people starve,"  says a woman who we'll call Choi Young-hee. "You see lots near the train stations. People without homes, they go there to sleep. Many of them die." 

Mrs Choi is a grandmother in her 70s. A couple of months ago she paid smugglers to carry her across the heavily-guarded river that separates North Korea from China. Her daughter also tried to cross, was caught and is now serving a three-year sentence in a North Korean political prison.

"We don't ask to wear good clothes, to dance or play. We only want full stomachs. But every day we wake up and our first thought is 'How are we going to get some food for breakfast?' Then 'How are we going to get something for dinner?'," she says. 

"Living like that makes people go crazy. Just brush against someone in the street and they will start fighting you. In their hearts everyone knows we live like dogs. But no-one can say it out loud."


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