Food Crisis in North? Or Pyongyang Planning Big Bash for 2012?

A couple of days after reports emerged of North Korean officials “begging” for food, even from countries in some of the world’s poorest regions, comes another report quoting an official at the Blue House (the home of South Korea’s president) casting doubt on the North’s need for food. According to the official, the North’s requests are part of preparations for 2012, the year the North promised its citizens it would become a “powerful and prosperous nation.”

A quote from the Blue House official: “It is my understanding that the North’s harvest increased last year from the previous year […] We must keep in mind the possibility that the North is stockpiling food, while giving smaller rations. In that case, NGOs and foreign relief agency workers probably think the food shortage has worsened.

This contrasts with a November 2010 report from the World Food Programme (WFP), “About five million people living in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) will continue to face food shortages despite a relatively good harvest and a slight increase in food supply.

The main difference between the two sources is that the WFP and other foreign relief organizations have people working on the ground in the North. The Blue House is basing its information on … defector reports? Intel? Politics? Neither, both, or either source could be correct … and the people ruling in Pyongyang who may know the answer aren’t talking.


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