ROME, FEB. 19, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The already dire situation of hunger in North Korea is expected to worsen this year, according to the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper.
L’Osservatore Romano today reported a South Korean analysis that projects its northern neighbor is lacking at least 1.3 million tons of cereal to provide minimum nourishment to its more than 22 million people.
The cereal production fell 5% last year, as compared to 2008.
The food emergency in the Communist country was indirectly confirmed recently by the leader Kim Jong Il who, in an intervention published in the state newspaper Rodong Sinmum, renewed the promise to free his people from foods based on corn in favor of “white rice, bread and noodles in generous quantity.” Earlier, the Communist leader had already admitted that “soups of meat and white rice” continue to be a dream for the majority of the people.
A further point of comparison is that in 2008, North Korea produced 1.9 million tons of rice, as opposed to the 4.8 million tons produced by South Korea with 50 million inhabitants (a little more than double the north’s population).
The food crisis in North Korea, where a good part of the population has been reduced to hunger, worsened with the famine of 1995, which caused close to three million deaths. Floods in 2007 further exacerbated a problem that has grown since the collapse of the Soviet Union, which was among the main supports of the North Korean regime.
Hopes were expressed that negotiations on North Korean nuclear disarmament will be renewed, since this would facilitate food aid from the international community.