In the News – Starvation Deaths Reported in Southern Areas

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In the News – Starvation Deaths Reported in Southern Areas

Food shortages in the North Korean agricultural heartland of Hwanghae Province are leading to starvation deaths, Daily NK has learned. A significant percentage of cooperative farm workers are reportedly too malnourished to work, and a number are leaving their farms to seek help.A North Hwanghae Province source told the Daily NK in recent days, “Local people are in pain from hunger, but the only help that households short of food are receiving from the authorities is 1 or 2 kg of corn; it’s emergency relief but only sufficient to stop them starving. Seeing the situation getting worse and with help from the authorities being so inadequate, there are people leaving for other areas to get help from family.”

The source gave an example of one village, saying, “Hangae-ri in Shingye County alone has seen a total of six children and elderly people die of starvation. At the same time, all the authorities are doing is telling everyone to try and overcome the difficulties.”

A second resident of the area, this time from South Hwanghae Province, recently came out into the North Korea-China border region to get food. Speaking with Daily NK by phone, the source mirrored the same sentiment, painting an alarming picture of the late winter food situation in and around Haeju, a coastal city just a few kilometers from South Korean Yeonpyeong Island.

“A few dozen very weak people could be found on each farm,” the source explained. “The farms put in place measures to deal with it, but these were fairly useless. By the time April had passed, something like ten people had died of starvation on each farm.”

“Food shortages were so serious that the 1st and 2nd Corps patrolling the military demarcation line around Kaesong were malnourished,” the source went on, adding that many of the soldiers from those units are now doing farming themselves because farm workers are deserting their posts. Continue reading

In the News – Doom and Gloom Down on the Farm

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In the News – Doom and Gloom Down on the Farm

North Korea’s agricultural sector has been in serious decline for years. Among the reasons commonly cited are a lack of fuel and parts for machinery and poor weather conditions. However, the country also suffers a shortage of able farm workers in rural areas. Not only that; those young adults who are working the farms have been stunted by years of undernourishment.

A North Hamkyung Province source told Daily NK today about comments he heard in conversation with a farm manager in recent weeks. According to the man, “It is not something new that only the elderly and infirm are left in the rural areas of North Korea, but it is annoying that in recent years those young adults designated to work here have not only decreased in number but also do not even work properly.”

“At this time people are needed to sow seeds, organize the rice fields and plow; however, because people are mandatorily dispatched to workplaces they just spend their time doing as little as possible and can even be a headache because they steal corn,” he went on.

According to the source, in the past exemplary high school students volunteered to go out and join farm projects; however, now farms are maintained by the labor of the remaining small number of students who either cannot go to college or enter the military, cannot bribe their way out of it and have not run off to urban areas.

The source said, “For a while younger adults were ‘the rocks of the farm’ and ‘farming shock troops’ but now they are a nuisance. In the past, the young adults threw up slogans such as ‘serve the Party with rice’, but it is hard to expect anything from people who have not been educated properly.”

Not only are they lazy, but young laborers between 17 and 30 arriving on the farm are also precisely those effected most by the economic crisis; born in the mid 90s or infants at the time, they spent their childhood then and are now between 120cm and 130cm in height, far, far below average.

The source concluded, “These people are nearly 30, yet they look like little children who have been put to work.”

 

Original article can be found here.