North Korea is allegedly planning to import 10,000 tons of rice from India. While publicly criticizing the Yoon Suk-yeol administration for its ‘audacious plan’ containing a measure to provide massive food aid to the North, North Korea is now moving to buy rice from India after China last month. Some analyze that COVID-19 and floods in North Korea may have deepened the economic difficulties, causing a severe food shortage in the country.
Voice of America (VOA) reported on Monday that it recently attained the ‘ship arrangement guide’ released to the delivery industry, according to which North Korea is now moving to ship 10,000 tons of rice from Visakhapatnam Port, the Eastern side of India to its Nampo Port. The guide introduced the desired departure date to be between Sept. 25 and 30. The guide is sort of a notice that contains the type of freight, departure and arrival locations, offered by a freight owner to find a vessel to ship its freight. An insider of the shipping industry told VOA, “It seems that North Korea wants to import ‘long grain’ produced in India, Pakistan and Thailand rather than ‘short grain’ that it commonly consumes.”
VOA pointed out that the guide didn’t include the supporting organization’s name, which is commonly presented in the case of humanitarian food aid from international organizations. It shows the possibility of North Korea coming out itself to import rice from India apart from humanitarian aid. Rice was out of the list of items sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council’s resolution against North Korea, as it is categorized as a humanitarian one.
During his remarks to commemorate National Liberation Day, South Korean President Yoon revealed his plan of providing food support to North Korea in exchange for the North’s mineral resources in case North Korea comes to the negotiating table for denuclearization. Against this, Kim Yo Jong, vice director of the North Korean Workers’ Party’s Propaganda and Agitation Department, criticized Yoon’s offer saying it is nothing but a ‘hollow dream.’
In the report ‘International Food Security Assessment,’ the Economic Research Service under the U.S. Department of Agriculture noted that some 16.3 million people in North Korea, or 63.1 percent of the nation’s total population, are identified to be suffering from food shortage. Some voiced concerns that the food crisis may even worsen due to the pandemic that went widespread around June, the rice-planting season, and a series of flood damages. North Korea imported about 10,000 tons of rice from China last month.