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north korea famine


According to a monitoring group, North Korea’s harvest will be worse than usual, exacerbating already severe food shortages in the country.

Swiss-based Geoglam said, after using satellite images, that drought had affected crops in an area known as the “cereal bowl”.

According to the UN data, 4 in 10 North Koreans need food aid and crop production is at its lowest level in five years.

Food shortages in North Korea are made worse by international sanctions on the country over its nuclear program.

In May food rations – which feed about 70% of the North Korean population – were cut from 550g (19.5 oz) to just 300g per person following poor results in this year’s early harvest.

According to Geoglam, North Korea’s main harvest in the southern provinces of South and North Hwanghae and South Pyongyan was complete but was estimated to have produced a below-average quantity of crops.

The organization also said that North Korea’s overall food situation was not expected to improve.

The country experienced severe droughts in spring and summer, and in September it was hit by Typhoon Lingling, which flooded farmland.

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In September, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said poor rice and maize harvests had left more than 10 million people in urgent need of assistance.

North Korea has also had to cope with a regional outbreak of swine fever in its pig herd, leading to reduced pork production.

Earlier this year a UN team found families surviving “on a monotonous diet of rice and kimchi most of the year, eating very little protein”, according to a report by the World Food Program. The report said some families were eating protein only a few times a year.

China and other countries have already provided North Korea with food aid so far this year.

Despite its situation, North Korea has refused to accept 50,000 tonnes of rice from South Korea. This is reportedly because of tensions with the South linked to stalled talks between Pyongyang and the US over the North’s nuclear program.

Food shortages are regular in North Korea. In the 1990s a severe nationwide famine is thought to have killed hundreds of thousands of people.


North Korea has been hit by worst drought in a century, sparking fears of worsening food shortages, state news agency KCN announced.

Main rice-growing provinces had been badly affected and more than 30% of rice paddies were “parching up”, the news agency said.

Hundreds of thousands of North Koreans are believed to have died during a widespread famine in the 1990s.

This drought is unlikely to be as deadly because of recent agricultural reforms, correspondents say.

The United Nations World Food Programme says North Korea regularly faces significant food shortages and currently about a third of children in the country are malnourished.

KCNA said rice planting had finished in more than 441,560 hectares of paddy fields “but at least 136,200 hectares of them are parching up”.North Korea drought 2015

Paddy fields in South Hwanghae and North Hwanghae provinces were particularly badly hit, with up to 80% of rice seedlings drying up in some areas, the news agency added.

It said South Phyongan and South Hamgyong were also “badly affected”.

“Water levels of reservoirs stand at their lowest, while rivers and streams [are] getting dry,” the news agency said.

It added that it was planting other crops in rice paddy fields of drought-stricken areas to “reduce damage”.

Denmark’s ambassador to North and South Korea, Thomas Lehman, told Reuters that he had visited drought-hit areas in the North in May.

“The lack of water has created a lot of damage to the so-called spring crop, and the rice planting is extremely difficult without sufficient water,” Thomas Lehman said.

In 2014, North Korea saw its lowest rainfall in 30 years.

For this reason, food shortages caused by the current drought are unlikely to be on the same scale, Thomas Lehman says.

Other countries, including South Korea, regularly send aid to North Korea.

In April 2015, the UN called for $111 million to fund humanitarian activities in food, nutrition, agriculture and sanitation.

North Korea is heavily sanctioned under UN resolutions for its nuclear and missile tests dating back to 2006.