NewsAsiaKey meeting on agriculture in North Korea, which is suffering from "serious" food shortages

Key meeting on agriculture in North Korea, which is suffering from “serious” food shortages

Published on : 02/27/2023 – 08:55

Kim Jong-un’s North Korea opened an exceptional agriculture meeting on Sunday, just two months after the previous one. This unusual frequency is fueling speculation that North Korea may be suffering from food shortages.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has opened a major meeting of the Workers’ Party of Korea to discuss the development of agriculture, state media in the isolated country reported on Monday (February 27th), facing ” serious” food shortages, says Seoul.

This type of meeting in North Korea is usually convened only once or twice a year, but this new ongoing plenary session comes just two months after the previous one, which also focused on agricultural issues.

This unusual frequency of meetings devoted to agriculture is fueling speculation that North Korea may currently be suffering from food shortages.

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Kim Jong-un presided over the opening Sunday of a plenary meeting of senior ruling party officials to “analyze and oversee (…) the program of rural revolution in the new era, and decide on important tasks (to be done ) immediately and urgent tasks,” North Korea’s official KCNA news agency reported.

The participants “unanimously approved the agenda items and entered into discussion” on the subject, KCNA said without giving further details.

According to South Korea’s Ministry for Unification, deaths from starvation have been reported in North Korea. “We believe the food shortages there are severe,” Koo Byoung-sam, a ministry spokesman, said last week, adding that Pyongyang appears to have requested aid from the World Food Programme.

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“Complex humanitarian emergency”

North Korea, nuclear-armed and subject to multiple sanctions because of its weapons programs, has long struggled to feed itself. It is highly vulnerable to natural disasters, including floods and drought, due to a chronic lack of infrastructure but also deforestation and decades of poor public management.

This situation has worsened with the state-imposed border closure since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, which was only recently relaxed to allow some trade with neighboring China.

The country has been periodically hit by famines, one of which, in the 1990s, killed hundreds of thousands of people – some estimates even number in the millions.

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According to North Korea website 38 North, the country is currently experiencing the worst food shortages in decades. The Pyongyang regime is forced to face “a complex humanitarian emergency whose heart is food insecurity”, according to an assessment published by this site in January 2023.

An analysis of rice and corn prices globally and in North Korea shows “significant” price divergence since the start of 2021, indicating that food is much more expensive in the North, which ” reports a disruption” in supply, adds 38 North.

But in a commentary recently published by North Korea’s main state newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, the regime said the country must continue to stick to a “self-sufficient economy” as part of its fight against “imperialists “.

With AFP

Source: France 24


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