EXPLAINED: Food Shortage Is Nothing New For North Korea, But Even Kim Jong-Un Is Worried By Current Crisis

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File photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP

The Kim Jong-un-led North Korea claims it has not had a single Covid-19 case, but there is a food crisis the country is facing that has the world worried


OOD SHORTAGE IS NOTHING NEW FOR NORTH KOREA, BUT EVEN KIM JONG-UN IS WORRIED BY CURRENT CRISIS
EXPLAINED: Food Shortage Is Nothing New For North Korea, But Even Kim Jong-Un Is Worried By Current Crisis
EXPLAINED: Food Shortage Is Nothing New For North Korea, But Even Kim Jong-Un Is Worried By Current Crisis
File photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)
The Kim Jong-un-led North Korea claims it has not had a single Covid-19 case, but there is a food crisis the country is facing that has the world worried

It is called the ‘hermit kingdom’ because of how secluded it is from the rest of the world thanks to the strict and authoritarian regime that runs the country. But cracks have emerged in the tough exterior that North Korea likes to show globally with its leader Kim Jong-un admitting recently that the food situation in the country is “getting tense". Humanitarian organisations have issued urgent appeals for other countries to engage with nuclear-powered North Korea so that they can offer help, but Pyongyang has studiously

While discussing any developments in North Korea it has to be remembered that it is one of the most secretive countries in the world and it is with great difficulty that any news trickles out to the world at large. Against this backdrop came to Covid-19 pandemic and what was already a country behind a thick veil only clamped down harder on exchanges with the outside world. What suffered as a result, experts say, was not only the flow of information, scant at the best of times, but also of food and other trade items that brought the people resources

At a plenary meeting of the Workers Party of Korea, which runs the country, Kim said, “The people’s food situation is now getting tense as the agricultural sector failed to fulfil its grain production plan due to the damage by typhoon last year."

According to reports, a kg of bananas costs upwards of Rs 3,000 while a kg of corn is selling for more than Rs 204.

The simple answer is, no, the country does not produce all the food it needs every year and heavily relies on neighbouring China mainly to meet its food requirements. Consider this: A Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) report dated June 14, 2021, noted that “production prospects for the 2020/21 minor early season winter/spring crops, for harvest in June, are generally favourable". The report said that the “2020/21 aggregate food crop production is forecast at a near-average level of 5.6 million tonnes". But despite this positive outlook, the report concluded that “the uncovered food gap is estimated at about 860,000 tonnes, equivalent to approximately 2.3 months of food use" for North Korea.

There is obviously the information vacuum when it comes to Pyongyang, but even so it is clear that when a favourable forecast had hinted at a shortage, the impact of typhoons that Kim spoke about would have only served to worsen the crisis. But it may not be the weather alone that deserves blame.

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