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North Korea: 'Too many soldiers to feed' as famine looms
24 August 2017
A combination of increased sanctions and the worst drought for almost two decades is threatening millions of people in North Korea, according to a report in The Guardian.
The report, which draws on sources from UN agencies and contacts within the country, claims that the drought means that millions of people will not have enough to eat, including many soldiers.
"There are too many soldiers to feed," said Jiro Ishimaru, a Japanese documentary-maker with sources inside North Korea. "And corruption is rife, so that by the time senior military officers have taken their share of food provisions to sell for profit on the private market, there is next to nothing left for ordinary soldiers."
Meanwhile, scarce resources are being diverted to their missile and nuclear programmes. While Kim Jong-Un's missile programme projects an image of strength on the world stage, at home, millions of ordinary people are going hungry.
"In an ordinary country there would be riots over the food shortages," said Ishimaru, "but not in North Korea."
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation estimated North Korea's early-season crop production was down almost a third from the same period last year. In the wake of the drought, the UN has approved $6.3m in aid, hoping to prevent a repeat of the appalling famine of the mid-1990s which killed as many as one million North Koreans.
At the same time, new UN sanctions, including a ban on seafood exports and iron ore production, will slash North Korea's $3bn annual export revenue by a third.
It all adds up to yet more misery for North Korea's beleaguered population.
North Korea is number 1 on the Open Doors World Watch List, a position it has held since 2002. As bad as conditions are for the general populace, Christians and other 'suspicious' groups face even worse penalties from the regime. Open Doors estimates that there are some 300,000 Christians in North Korea, of whom some 50,000 to 70,000 are imprisoned in labour camps.
- For change within the governing regime, and for the influence of other world powers
- For God's protection for secret Christians and for courage and endurance for those in labour camps
- That UN aid would reach the people who need it most and that North Korea would open up more to outside help.
More News from North Korea:
- 'Never before have I seen so many North Koreans come to faith'
- Released Canadian Christian describes 'harsh' conditions
- Korean Peninsula a 'powder keg that needs true peace' warns Korean Archbishop
- Canadian church leader freed on health grounds
- Otto Warmbier dies after detention in North Korea
Find out more about persecution in North Korea.