The Chairman of North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly was recently in Britain begging for food, part of a recent campaign by the North to acquire food supplies for:
- The brutal April to May ‘hardship period’ (춘궁기) when the previous year’s harvest has been largely consumed, but food from the spring plantings has yet to arrive. This is the reason given by the North Koreans for their current, desperate need for food aid. While it is at least partly true, no mention is made that April and May come every year, that the South conquered this problem back in the 70s (many older South Koreans can also vividly recall the difficult period between harvests), and that the North’s problems are largely of the leadership’s creation.
- The reason commonly advocated by conservatives in the South (and likely partially true as well), is that the North is stockpiling food to celebrate 2012, the year the country’s leadership promised to become a “powerful and prosperous nation” (as mentioned in a previous post).
Combine these doubts with Kim Jong-il’s recent offer to donate $500,000 to Japanese relief efforts, made at the same time the UN was reporting the North needed aid to feed six million people, and you can see why the North is having difficulty attracting much international support. Caught in the middle? The six million hungry people.