More than 60% of North Koreans risk starvation

Food insecurity threatens 16 million inhabitants.  It is the worst figure in Asia after Yemen and Afghanistan, two war zones.  Economy devastated by international sanctions, pandemics and natural disasters.  Kim Jong-un is betting on productive self-sufficiency to overcome the crisis.


Seoul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - 63% of the North Korean population risks hunger.  The data was revealed yesterday by the US Department of Agriculture and is the worst in Asia after that in Yemen (92%) and Afghanistan (67.3%), two war zones: before the coronavirus crisis it was 59.2%.  According to US government calculations, more than 16 million North Koreans faced food insecurity in 2020, consuming less than 2,100 kilocalories per day.

North Korea is isolated from the international community (except from China and partly from Russia), which placed it under restrictions for years because of its nuclear and missile program.  Despite the three summits and the apparent good relations with former US President Donald Trump, nuclear negotiations with Washington have been stalled for some time.  The country is in serious trouble: the pandemic emergency and a series of summer typhoons have weakened an economy already devastated by sanctions.

During the recent Workers Party Congress, in power since the end of the Second World War, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un admitted that the latest five-year economic plan has proved a failure.  As highlighted by the 38 North website, the regime has estimated growth in state revenues of 0.9% this year - the lowest rate since the great famine of the mid-1990s.

In an attempt to emerge from this state of crisis, the strongman of Pyongyang is focusing on self-sufficiency.  He wants to limit the effects of the health crisis and US sponsored international sanctions.  The goal of the new five-year plan is to innovate sectors such as construction, transport and communications, with particular attention on mobile communications.  Kim is also betting on the development of a national nuclear energy industry.