22 March 2018
AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook
Geographic areas

  • > Africa
  • > Central Asia
  • > Europe
  • > Middle East
  • > Nord America
  • > North Asia
  • > South Asia
  • > South East Asia
  • > South West Asia
  • > Sud America
  • > East Asia

  • » 02/25/2011, 00.00


    Hunger reaches alarming levels as people resort to eating wild grasses and dirt

    Joseph Yun Li-sun

    Five NGOs sound the alarm after their teams come back from Pyongyang. People are desperate and thousands could die. Source warns AsiaNews that hunger might cause a popular uprising and lead to a mass exodus to the South.
     Seoul (AsiaNews) – Juche, the ideology of self-reliance launched by dictator Kim Il-sung in the 1950s, is wiping out North Korea. So many North Koreans are hungry that they are resorting to eating wild grasses, when they find it, or just starving to death. Looming on the horizon is a popular uprising that might lead to a mass exodus to the South, this according to officials from five US-based aid agencies who have sounded the alarm after returning from a trip to North Korea

    The five NGOs, Christian Friends of Korea, Global Resource Services, Mercy Corps, Samaritan’s Purse and World Vision, were in North Korea on the invitation of the government. Their teams report that 50 per cent to 80 per cent of the wheat and barley planted for harvesting in the spring has been wiped out by the bitter cold of the past two months. They also said that hospitals reported an increase in malnutrition over the past six months.

    The issue is complex. North Korea’s main foreign donors (United States and South Korea) cut humanitarian aid following North Korean military provocations last year. The sinking of ROKS Cheonan, which left 46 sailors dead, and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island incensed South Korea’s conservative government. In a statement, President Lee Myung-bak said that his administration would not provide aid until Pyongyang officially apologised.

    The United States stopped aid out of concern that it would be used for North Korea’s rulers and armed forces, and not the people. ‘Dear leader’ Kim Jong-il has in fact refused to allow international monitors into the country, and has always insisted that aid be handed over at the border to his military.

    Compounding the situation are the government’s disastrous economic policies and currency reform that pulled whatever rug was left under the population’s feet.

    “It is all true,” a Korean source told AsiaNews. “People have nothing to eat. I have seen personally children eat dirt. The danger is that, without outside help, people might rise up and be mowed down by the army. Or they could pour across the border into the South. Seoul however would not be able to handle such a flow and could decide to send them back.”

    e-mail this to a friend Printable version

    See also

    16/05/2005 NORTH KOREA – SOUTH KOREA
    Seoul and Pyongyang to restart talks
    A South Korean delegation arrived this morning in Kaesong, a city in North Korea, for the start of two-day talks. It will discuss restarting the six-nation nuclear talks and humanitarian aid for the North.

    11/08/2006 SOUTH KOREA - NORTH KOREA
    Seoul sends 14 million dollars worth of aid to north

    The aid package includes rice and building materials to face the emergency that arose due to recent floods. Official South Korean sources said: this aid is given unconditionally; it is purely humanitarian intervention. Aid was suspended after missile tests conducted in July.

    24/10/2008 KOREA - UN
    North Korea: public executions to foster a climate of terror
    The charge comes from a human rights expert, at the UN general assembly, highlighting the atmosphere of "intimidation" in the country. The government is blocking telephone calls outside of the country, and setting up sanctions against those who try to leave. UN-South Korea dispute over the food crisis in the north.

    21/12/2017 10:08:00 KOREA
    Escape of North Korean deserter. The fourth this year

    Exchange of warning shots between the two armies, but the bullets did not cross the border. Yesterday two civilians fled to South Korea. In all, 15 citizens of the North have escaped to the south.

    17/08/2006 NORTH KOREA – SOUTH KOREA
    North Korea: Floods claim 54,700 victims and leave 2.5 million homeless

    A humanitarian aid NGO said this was the worst disaster ever to hit the country. The harvest is at stake in a country already hard pressed to feed its people.

    Editor's choices

    Putin's victory seen from West and East

    Xi Jinping sent a highly congratulatory message. Japan and Germany issued polite words. The Observatory for Security and Cooperation in Europe criticised restrictions on fundamental freedoms. Tensions with Britain remain over the ex-spy poisoning. For Chinese scholar, as the West continues to attack Russia and China, the two will move closer.

    NPC: silence on constitutional amendment, scripted media coverage

    John Ai

    Spokespeople provide scripted answers to scripted questions. Various “foreign” media are funded by China as propaganda tools. The end of term limits for Xi Jinping is the will of the people even though the people did not know about it.


    AsiaNews monthly magazine (in Italian) is free.


    News feed

    Canale RSSRSS channel 


    IRAN 2016 Banner

    2003 © All rights reserved - AsiaNews C.F. e P.Iva: 00889190153 - GLACOM®