Science, Tech & Environment

North Korea food crisis

(How odd do you find it that North Korea is opening access to the WFP?) I think it's a sign of desperation. The WFP was kicked out in 2005 and this is the first time they've been able to get back in the country. there's been a perfect storm of factors that's created a new food shortage: South Korea normally gives extensive food aid to the North and they pulled back in the wake of new nuclear tests in the North. One of the findings of our research is that the rising rice prices have affected North Korea as well. (Would North Korea be in the dire straits without these rising prices?) Along with the floods, it's one factor, but North Korea is a socialist economy so the food is typically distributed directly to the people but after the famine that distribution system broke down and families started relying on the market for food purchases and of course those market prices are transmitted through imports. (How severe is the current food shortage?) We need to assess a lot of things, and we haven't gotten there yet. We know they're short maybe a million metric tons of food for their population. We've also gotten anecdotal evidence. (How do you know what to believe? What info is most reliable?) Something like the aggregate food production numbers are pretty accurate, satellite imagery also provides good estimates. The North Koreans normally aren't very accurate with the figures they provide us. We're hearing reports that people have turned to making grass porridges, which is a very bad sign and we're getting other reports of vulnerable populations�the elderly and young�dying.

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