North Korea has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons once more. This time round, it has been reported that the country is now facing a food crisis, in which the situation is defined as tense. North Korea is no stranger to a food crisis, having suffered a serious famine in the 1990s, in which hundreds of thousands died.
The country which is facing multiple sanctions due to its nuclear weapons and missile programmes has endured food shortages for a number of years. The COVID-19 pandemic combined with summer storms and floods increased the pressure on North Korea and its economy.
During a plenary meeting, the leader of the country Kim Jong Un, highlighted that although the economy grew this year, there were a “series of deviations” which brought about a number of challenges.
Amidst existing pressures, a typhoon last year made things all the more difficult, since the agricultural sector did not meet its production plan. A number of typhoons have caused several hardships, destroying thousands of homes and farmland. The leader of North Korea emphasised the importance of taking steps to minimise the repercussions of these natural disasters, safeguarding food supplies which remained a top priority.
During this meeting, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic were discussed. Considering the below par medical infrastructure and shortage of medication, an outbreak would lead to significant jeopardy and mayhem.
The strategy that North Korea adopted was that of a strict lockdown to stop the virus spreading from China. This move took place in January 2020, leading to claims that North Korea had no cases of the virus. This is deemed as doubtful by many commentators. Having gone into a strict lockdown has yielded to an economic upheaval. The trade with China, deemed as an important pillar of the North Korean economy has diluted significantly.
The economic hardships brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters has created a dire situation of poverty, whereby almost eleven million people are classified as being in need. Back in April, the North Korean leader had advised the people to prepare themselves for one of the worst situations ever encountered.
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