AMU Asia Intelligence

UN: North Korea Running Out of Food

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By William Tucker
korea_north_rel_2005.jpgOver the last few weeks In Homeland Security has been following the unrest in the Middle East, and like many others, has explored some of the roots of the uprisings. It is rare to find in any uprising a single issue that drives the unrest, but there are some things that a population cannot live without. Food, shelter, water are just a few things that humans need to survive, and when supplies run low the government can quickly become the target of the populations ire. An article that ran in the Financial Times today discussed a recent UN report that states one third of North Korean’s are starving. For those that follow North Korea, this certainly doesn’t come as a surprise. In the last ten to twenty years, North Korea has gone through a substantial population decline due in part to prolonged famines. Indeed, the North is resource poor and arable land is at a premium. Further compounding the problems for Pyongyang is the way in which food stuffs are distributed to through the country. The government places a high priority on ensuring military readiness and usually supplies the military first – often at the expense of the general population. Simply put, any increase in aid to the country will not likely be enough for the population, nor is it likely that the people in need would get it to begin with. In the past the North has engaged in seemingly radical behavior as a pretense for negotiating for increased aid and it is likely they will do so in the near future. The UN report states that North Korea’s public food distribution system is likely to run out of supplies by May. If Pyongyang does anything it is likely to be sooner rather than later.

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