United Nations Security Council sanctions, the COVID-19 closure of its border with China, and a 2020 drought followed by typhoon rains are combining to create severe food shortages in North Korea, with concerns growing about widespread malnutrition and a potential repeat of the country’s famine in the 1990s.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un acknowledged the problem at a June meeting of the Workers’ Party’s Central Committee.
The Korea Development Institute in Seoul said in a report last month that North Korea required 5.2 million tonnes of food for 2020, yet produced only four million tonnes, leaving a shortfall of more than one million tonnes.
Even with imports, North Korea will suffer a food gap of 780,000 tonnes for 2020-2021, outlining the effect of a drought in early 2020, followed by a succession of typhoons and heavy rains in August and September that severely hampered food production.
While nearly all foreign diplomats and relief agencies have now left North Korea, reports suggest the situation is worsening.