Child Malnutrition in North Korea
One in five children
in North Korea is malnourished. The United Nations claims that 200,000 children in this country are suffering from acute malnutrition.

Child malnutrition in North Korea is a growing concern of various humanitarian organizations. Aid programs find trouble reaching the country due to trade restrictions and only a few groups are allowed to enter North Korea. Although the percentage of children stunted by malnutrition in North Korea has dropped from 28 percent in 2011 to 20 percent in 2018, children are still facing severe malnutrition and are in need of immediate assistance.

World Food Programme Role in North Korea

A very big problem of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is that it suffers from a drastic food shortage. The World Food Programme (WFP) has stated that a combination of the country’s harsh climate, rocky terrain, lack of farming technology and the recent 2015 drought have all contributed to a significant reduction in harvest.

WFP provides several programs to the country such as food for work program, food for nursing or pregnant women and support of factories that produce fortified meals. However, WFP has recently had trouble finding funding as many donors are unwilling to fund North Korean programs even though the country’s sanctions do not limit aid programs.

UNICEF in North Korea

UNICEF has expressed that there is a dire humanitarian need in North Korea. As of 2017, they had screened 90 percent of children under the age of 5 with severe acute malnutrition in the country and have treated 19,000 of those children.

One of UNICEF’s focuses is nutrition and sanitation interventions, specifically for children and mothers who just got their babies, in order to help combat child malnutrition in North Korea. The organization has stated that it needs $16,5 million to meet all of its goals for the country in 2018. These goals include providing children and pregnant women with nutrition, proper hygiene and safe drinking water. UNICEF is not the only group focused on the needs of new mothers and children.

First Health Steps

First Health Steps Canada is another on-ground organization attempting to battle child malnutrition in North Korea. The group mainly focuses on children, pregnant women and nursing mothers. They have two programs that are called Soymilk and Sprinkles that are used to provide necessary nutrition to young children all over North Korea.

Through the Soymilk program, they deliver soybeans to North Korea that are then turned into soymilk and delivered to daycares and elementary schools. Their Sprinkles program delivers micro-nutrient packs to pregnant women, nursing mothers and young children. The group also works on the ground and has visited the Yonsa county after Typhoon Lionrock to ensure that building supplies and food have been delivered. First Steps has provided an invaluable aid to the food insecure people of North Korea.

Organizations such as UNICEF, First Steps and the World Food Programme are attempting to find solutions to the dire need of food security and child nutrition in North Korea. Although a lot of progress has been made in the last decades, child malnutrition in North Korea is still a high priority issue.

Although it seems bleak, there is hope since more aid workers and groups are finding it easier to access the country. Officials of the country have also been cited as wanting to focus more effort on the economic stability of the country which could ensure the health of their people. As more focus is being put on humanitarian needs and less on political tensions, food security in North Korea is certainly going to improve in the upcoming period.

– Olivia Halliburton
Photo: Flickr

Facts about famine in North Korea
North Korea is one of the most mysterious and reclusive countries in the world. It is well known for its repressive government and the abhorrent living conditions its citizens endure. Nowhere is this suffering more apparent than in the facts about famine in North Korea, which has further repressed the country’s citizens and fueled Kim Jong Un’s pursuit of a dangerous nuclear program. These 10 facts about famine in North Korea show just how brutal life in the country really is.

10 Facts About Famine in North Korea

  1. Numbers Are Scarce
    Although the Food Security and Information Network (FSIN) acknowledged a major famine in North Korea in its 2017 report, the group also noted that statistics showing the scale of the famine are hard to find due to the repressive nature of the Kim regime as well as its efforts to convey the illusion of prosperity.
  2. The Problem Requires External Assistance
    FSIN also noted that North Korea needs foreign assistance to recover from the famine. Given the country’s poor economy, it will be difficult if not impossible for the country to recover on its own.
  3. But External Assistance Is Unlikely
    However, due to rising tensions between the United States, the United Nations and North Korea over the development of nuclear weapons, tighter economic sanctions have been placed on the country, further weakening its economy and deepening the current famine. If any country were to grant economic support to North Korea, it would face an immense backlash from both the U.S. and the U.N.
  4. The Famine Is Significant
    According to a 2017 report by the United Nations, which made estimates based on satellite images and economic data, roughly two out of five citizens are malnourished. It has identified more than 13 million North Koreans in need of economic assistance who are likely struggling to survive in the current conditions.
  5. The Kim Regime Is Focused on Military Development Instead
    Due to fears of a regime change by the United States military, Kim Jong Un has largely focused the scarce resources of North Korea on the development of conventional and nuclear weaponry. This furthers the problem, as the regime has largely ignored the plight of its own people.
  6. Economic Reforms Have Largely Failed
    According to an op-ed by Roberta Cohen for Brookings, economic reforms put in place by the late Supreme Leader Kim Jong Il and current leader Kim Jong Un have failed to revitalize the North Korean economy, including its faltering agricultural industry, leading to a continuation of the famine. This has led Kim Jong Un to dedicate even more resources to military development and repression of citizens to avoid a revolt should the population grow more dissatisfied with his leadership.
  7. Weather and Geography Are Also to Blame
    The weather and geography of North Korea contribute to the famine. North Korea is sandwiched between several other countries, and has a climate that is generally not conducive to agriculture. This could be addressed by importing goods, but due to current global conflicts, there are strict sanctions on the nation.
  8. The Famine Is Behind the Repression of North Korean Citizens
    Many have wondered why the Kim regime is so focused on the creation of a totalitarian state unforgiving of criticism and driven to propaganda. Yet, should the regime abandon this set of ideals, the public would quickly turn on the government for malnourishing them and not promoting change. It is easier for Kim to tighten his political grip and shift blame to the United States than acknowledge his failure to supply his own citizens with basic needs.
  9. Sanctions Have Contributed to the Famine
    Though the United States government places most of the blame for North Korea’s poor living conditions on the Kim regime, according to the New York Times, the strict sanctions it has imposed in recent years have further contributed to the nation’s economic downfall. Though an argument could be made that sanctions are necessary to stop the development of nuclear weapons, it would be wrong to deny their role in the famine crisis.
  10. The Current Famine Could Get Worse
    The citizens of North Korea are often regarded as a brainwashed mass, but they possess the same basic needs as any people. Their suffering has been accelerated by the famine, and should the United States and North Korea become involved in a second war, the situation could devolve into a severe humanitarian crisis. Even disregarding the loss of life from direct military conflict, the chaos caused by war would further disrupt agriculture, cripple the already poor North Korean economy and lead to a refugee crisis that could claim hundreds of thousands of lives.

These 10 facts about famine in North Korea show the brutal underbelly of life in North Korea and a major humanitarian crisis in the making, a reality that is often overlooked in our haste to parody a struggling and repressed nation.

– Shane Summers

Photo: Flickr

hunger in North Korea

The amount of people suffering from hunger in North Korea has been on a steady incline since the 1990s. North Korea is home to about 25 million people and 10.5 million of these people are undernourished. While 70 percent of the population relies on food aid, the country’s military ambitions have invited harsh sanctions that severely hamper its people.

Roughly a quarter of North Korea’s GDP is funneled into helping Kim Jong-Un present a façade of power via nuclear weapons development. The continued missile launches have caused a lessening of support from charities and world leaders, making it even harder for North Koreans to find food.

Because of this, the vulnerable citizens of North Korea are desperately in need of aid. According to a United Nations report, “More predictable funding is urgently required to ensure the immediate needs of the most vulnerable are addressed.”

In November 2017, North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile. The heightened tensions that resulted instigated the United Nations to respond with new sanctions on the regime’s energy supplies.

But while sanctions grip the country in an attempt to incentivize halting nuclear weapons development, the sanctions have also impacted hunger in North Korea. About 60,000 children are at risk of dying due to a lack of food, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund. On Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, UNICEF launched a $16.5 million emergency relief for North Korea.

President Donald Trump announced new sanctions against North Korea on Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, and called them “the strongest sanctions on Korea that we have ever put on a country.” The move puts pressure on North Korea’s shipping and trade.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in January that the international sanctions are “really starting to hurt” North Korea and was confident it would lead the regime to negotiate. The sanctions, combined with drought, corruption and a decline in crop production, add to hunger in North Korea more than they prevent weapon development.

The poor farmers of North Korea have, in some instances, resorted to using human waste as fertilizer for their crops, according to the BBC. This practice leads to the contamination of food grown in the soil. Furthermore, in January, a soldier was shot as he defected from North Korea and attempted to run across the demilitarized zone. An autopsy revealed his severe undernourishment, as well as the presence of many parasites in his stomach.

Kim Jong-Un has leveraged the threat of nuclear weapons and military to attain the opportunity to sit down with the President of the United States. All the while, the North Korean people suffer starvation in exchange. Hunger in North Korea will only continue to worsen if other charitable organizations, such as UNICEF, are unable to provide assistance to the nation.

– Sam Bramlett

Photo: Flickr