International

North Korea famine, World Food Program, WFP
Lee Jin-man/AP
A South Korean couple look at photos showing North Korean children suffering from
famine at an exhibition in Seoul. (AP)

North Korea Braces for Famine

August 01, 2008 01:48 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The country has already asked for increased aid, and is on the brink of its worst food crisis in a decade, according to the UN World Food Program.

30-Second Summary

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World Food Program (WFP) staff in the country say that they are observing some of the same warning signs that were present during a period of famine in the 1990s that caused the deaths of 2 million people, or 10 percent of the population.

“We’ve found that many more people are now scavenging for wild foods which provide little nourishment and are difficult to digest. Food assistance to reach the hungry is urgently needed,” said Jean-Pierre de Margerie, the agency’s director for North Korea, in a WFP press release.

The agency plans to increase food distributions so that they reach 6.4 million people, up from the current number of 1.2 million.

Aid workers report that some North Koreans, when asked where their next meal is coming from, are giving vague replies such as: “I’m hoping my relatives who live on a cooperative farm will deliver some potatoes tonight.”

Flooding and crop failures are partially to blame, says the UN agency. In addition, global inflation in the price of staple foods such as rice and corn, which has taken a toll on countries throughout Asia, have had a particular impact on North Korea due to its sluggish economy.

The uncertain state of world agriculture has led to food riots in several countries, including Haiti, Cameroon, Egypt and the Philippines, reports The Economist. The Philippines has started punishing those who hoard rice with life imprisonment, while in Haiti, protestors chanting “We’re hungry” have brought about the resignation of the prime minister.

Headline Link: ‘Famine warning signs seen in North Korea’

Historical Context: ‘Famine may have killed 2 million in North Korea’

Background: The global food crisis

Reference: ‘DPRK survey confirms deepening hunger for millions’

Related Topics: North and South Korea relations

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