Millions of North Koreans on the Verge of Starvation

Millions of North Koreans on the Verge of Starvation

North Korea is in danger of experiencing a food crisis. Factors such as United Nations Security Council sanctions, the closure of its border with China due to Covid-19, and a drought in 2020 followed by typhoons could potentially repeat the famine of the 1990s.


UMMATIMES - North Korean leader Kim Jong-un acknowledged the issue of the food crisis at a meeting of the Central Committee of the Labor Party some time ago. Kim said the agricultural sector had failed to meet production plans, due to damage from last year's typhoon.

“The food situation of the community is now tense. It is very important for the whole party and country to concentrate on agriculture," Kim said.

A North Korea expert from SOAS University of London, Hazel Smith, was in North Korea from 1998 to 2001 to develop agricultural data analysis for UNICEF and the World Food Programme. He paints a picture of what is going on.

"Children under seven, pregnant and lactating women, disadvantaged groups, the elderly, these are people who are starving," Smith said.

The Korea Development Institute in Seoul said in a report last month that North Korea needed 5.2 million tons of food for 2020. However, so far North Korea has only produced four million tons of food.

North Korea's food imports will not solve the food crisis. The country will experience a food gap of 780 thousand tons for 2020-2021.

"If this gap is not adequately covered through commercial imports and/or food aid, households could have a tough time between August and October 2021," FAO said.

The United Nations children's agency (UNICEF) has warned of the dangers of famine threatening the people of North Korea. About 10 million people in North Korea are considered food insecure, and 140,000 children under 5 years of age suffer from acute malnutrition.

"Higher malnutrition and mortality rates are anticipated for 2021," UNICEF said in its Humanitarian Situation Report published in February.

Meanwhile, almost all foreign diplomats and aid agencies have now left North Korea. Human Rights Watch senior researcher Lina Yoon revealed the testimony of a missionary working in North Korea. According to the missionary, there were more beggars, and several people died of starvation in the border areas of North Korea.