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[Editorial] Playing Games While People Starve

Posted March. 19, 2009 09:51,   


North Korea is kicking out international aid organizations working in the North to monitor food distribution after rejected U.S. food assistance. This act is beyond comprehension. Considering the dire food shortage in the North, Pyongyang has every reason to ask for international support but instead acts arrogantly. The expansive delusion of the North under leader Kim Jong Il is extremely abnormal, as the communist regime puts on a façade of being a strong country and conducts an offensive on the world despite its starving population.

Analysts have a wide variety of analyses on Pyongyang’s intent. Some say the North’s rejection is intended to win U.S. sympathy given the South Korea-U.S. military exercise Key Resolve and strong warnings against Pyongyang’s purported missile launch. The North believed the Obama administration would be more cooperative than its predecessor. Others say the North seeks to preemptively counter international sanctions for its launch or express its anger over the monitoring of food distribution. Whatever the reason, Pyongyang’s move is an inhumane act of aggression depriving its people of the right to live.

The food shortage in North Korea is extremely serious, though perhaps not as bad as in the 1990s, when millions are known to have starved to death. Even a generous estimate suggests that the North can self-supply 4.2 million tons of grain this year, a far cry from its need of 5.2 million tons. In certain regions, residents get a yearly food ration barely enough for three months. Many barely survive on soup or simply starve to death. Vitit Muntarbhorn, a United Nations envoy for human rights in North Korea, said 8.7 million residents suffer from an extreme food shortage. For this reason, the United States pledged in May last year 500,000 tons of food to the North over a one-year period. But Pyongyang rejected that as well.

The North is spending astronomical amounts of money to develop nuclear weapons and conduct missile tests, with slogans such as, “Politics of a strong military” and “A strong powerful nation.” A Korean proverb says, “Eat before touring even Mount Kumgang (in North Korea).” It is impossible to understand the North’s call for a strong powerful country when its people are starving to death.

North Korean media recently reported that Kim Jong Il visited Chollima General Steel Company in Nampo late last year, citing lack of heating at the cafeteria. He reportedly said after blasting senior officials, “If the cafeteria is cold, it is useless no matter how much nutritious food workers eat.” For Kim to demand heating at cafeterias while denying much-needed foreign food aid for his starving country is incredibly hypocritical and cheating the North Korean people.