You’ve probably heard about the recent missile launches by North Korea. The latest test flew over Japan, prompting unanimous condemnation from world leaders and the UN. But as the North Korean leadership focus on developing their military capabilities, the sanctions imposed on the country, alongside a terrible drought, mean a looming famine is very likely to threaten millions of people in North Korea.
A report in The Guardian, which draws on sources from UN agencies and contacts within the country, claims that the drought means that millions of people will not have enough to eat, including many soldiers.
“There are too many soldiers to feed,” said Jiro Ishimaru, a Japanese documentary-maker with sources inside North Korea. “And corruption is rife, so that by the time senior military officers have taken their share of food provisions to sell for profit on the private market, there is next to nothing left for ordinary soldiers.”
Meanwhile, scarce resources are being diverted to their missile and nuclear programmes. While Kim Jong-Un’s missile programme projects an image of strength on the world stage, at home, millions of ordinary people are going hungry.
“In an ordinary country there would be riots over the food shortages,” said Ishimaru, “but not in North Korea.”
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation estimated North Korea’s early-season crop production was down almost a third from the same period last year. In the wake of the drought, the UN has approved $6.3m in aid, hoping to prevent a repeat of the appalling famine of the mid-1990s which killed as many as one million North Koreans.
At the same time, new UN sanctions, including a ban on seafood exports and iron ore production, will slash North Korea’s $3bn annual export revenue by a third.
It all adds up to yet more misery for North Korea’s beleaguered population.
North Korea is number 1 on the Open Doors World Watch List, a position it has held since 2002. As bad as conditions are for the general populace, Christians and other ‘suspicious’ groups face even worse penalties from the regime. Open Doors estimates that there are some 300,000 Christians in North Korea, of whom some 50,000 to 70,000 are imprisoned in labour camps.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.