Is The North Korean Government To Blame For Starving Citizens?

In March 2016, North Korea called upon its citizens to prepare for another “arduous march” – a reference to the country’s devastating famine in the 1990s North Korea’s food shortage is so dire that the government launched a 70-day “loyalty campaign”, requiring farmers to donate crops to the military and citizens of Pyongyang to provide more than two pounds of rice to the state every month

So, how did North Korea get to this point? Malnutrition is nothing new for North Korea the country has a long history of food shortages After the famine of the 1990s, North Korea relied on international donors – like China and the United States – for about 80 percent of its food supply

But throughout the 2000’s, its donors steadily cut them off, in response to the country’s persistent human rights abuses and growing nuclear program By 2013, the country’s food aid had dropped almost 20-fold The United Nations reported in 2015 that 70 percent of North Koreans are food insecure, and more than a quarter of children under five are chronically malnourished North Korea’s current plight is largely a result of its severe drought, which the government calls its worst in a century In 2014, rainfall hit a 30-year low, and roughly 30 percent of the country’s primary crop has dried up

In the past, North Korea has dealt with the country’s periodic floods and droughts with proactive farming techniques; but, the severity of this drought has outweighed even their most efficient methods Even privately-owned markets – which were once a primary source of food for city-dwellers – have been strictly curbed under Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un This is under the backdrop of North Korea’s severe inequality and corrupt government, which experts say has fueled many of the country’s otherwise avoidable food shortages North Korea’s social system, called “songbun”, assigns citizens one of three designated social classes, based solely on their family history A person’s songbun determines where they work, live and even how much food they receive from the state

Accordingly, those with the lowest songbun suffer the most from food shortages It’s estimated that more than three million North Koreans died during the 1990s famine, many of whom belonged to the lowest societal sector What’s more, the North Korean government has reportedly prioritized its military and nuclear program, over feeding its hungry population According to the UN, this strategy has persisted even during periods of mass starvation North Korea’s allies and other world leaders have responded to the country’s massive military spending with economic sanctions, which are reportedly the toughest in two decades

These prohibit UN members from purchasing North Korea’s two largest exports: coal and iron, But as history shows, the government is hesitant to help its own people Instead, as famine looms, the state has asked its citizens to [quote] “chew the roots of plants once again” Millions in North Korea are starving, with almost no resources to turn to Watch this video by DNews about the effects of starvation on the human body, to learn just what North Korea’s population is going through

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