NORTH KOREA: An acute food crisis is being experienced by North Korea owing to factors like border control, poor weather, and the sanctions that have made matters worse over the years. At the end of February, top officials would meet to discuss the “fundamental change” to be implemented in the agricultural policy.
According to the CIA World Factbook, North Korea is ranked one of the poorest countries in the world, with the gross domestic product per capita being nearly $1,700 in 2015.
According to reports, South Korea’s unification ministry has asked the World Food Program (WFP) for help. Based on satellite imagery, South Korean authorities determined North Korea would produce 180,000 metric tonnes less food in 2022 than it did in 2021.
WFP raised concerns in June that bad weather conditions and disasters like droughts and flooding can hamper the production of winter and spring crops. In 2022, the country faced its second-worst drought.
At the beginning of 2023, corn prices had increased by 20%, increasing rice demand. North Korea-centred publication 38North.org’s employee, Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein, said, “If people are buying more corn, it means food overall is getting more expensive, and staple foods like rice in particular,” adding, “But margins are razor thin. So even a slightly lessened supply of food could potentially have dire consequences.”
An analyst at a news company, James Fretwell, stated, “Due to North Korea’s strict COVID border measures on goods and people, there’s no way for any outsiders to go into the country and check for themselves what the situation is.”
The country has also ignored humanitarian aid from the international community, which might stem from the prolonged border closure. However, relief workers have reported that this might be caused by tightening international sanctions in response to North Korea’s military provocations.
South Korea’s country director for non-profit Liberty in North Korea, Sokeel Park, mentions, “The regime has acknowledged how hard things are for ordinary North Koreans, but continues to prioritise propaganda and pageantry for the Kim family, missile launches, and strict controls on the population.”