The National Committee on North Korea
Update on Food Security in North Korea
April 22, 2015
Earlier this month, the UN country team in North Korea published its annual needs and priorities assessment, saying that “while there is no classical humanitarian crisis, protracted and serious needs are persistent and need to be addressed.” According to the report, nearly three quarters of North Korea’s population doesn’t consume an adequately diverse diet, with 27.9% of the population suffering from chronic malnutrition and 4% from acute malnutrition. The report indicated that only 17% of the UN’s requested $110 million in North Korea-related funding for 2015 has been met thus far.
A February report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, based on official North Korean production figures and independent analysis but without information gathered from the field, adds to the picture of the current humanitarian situation. It estimates 2014/15 food production to remain on par with last year’s harvest, leaving North Korea with an uncovered food deficit of about 107,000 tons after expected commercial imports of about 300,000 tons.
In addition to UN programs meeting part of this deficit, North Korea has appealed to neighboring countries for aid. Last year, Russia began fulfilling a pledge of 50,000 metric tons of food aid to North Korea, and it is possible that such aid may continue as the two countries’ relations continue to warm. China also reportedly contributed 8,300 metric tons of food to North Korea last year. On April, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong met in India with his counterpart, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, with North Korea’s request for assistance reportedly being considered “positively.” Additionally, South Korea’s Unification Ministry has recently indicated that the ROK would ease barriers to private-sector aid to the North.
All this comes as North Korea appears to be cracking down on aid workers in the country. In late February, the DPRK expelled the country director of a German NGO for reasons that remain unclear. Earlier this month, North Korean state media announced that the country had expelled an American aid worker for engaging in “plot-breeding and propaganda.”
Last updated January 18, 2014
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Who We Are
The National Committee is a non-partisan coalition of individuals with extensive and complementary knowledge of and direct experience related to the society, economy, government, and history of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
We are a diverse group. A number of members served as diplomats in some of the landmark U.S.-DPRK negotiations. Some have authored major books on the history, society, and security of the Korean Peninsula. Other members have worked in virtually all parts of North Korea, and on issues related to the country's current economic, humanitarian, refugee, and medical crises. Some of our experience reaches back to the era of the Korean War. Most have extensive contacts in the Republic of Korea, China, Japan, and Russia related to the Korean Peninsula. While the National Committee on North Korea is non-governmental, several of the members have worked in official positions and have ongoing ties with current or past administrations and with the United States Congress.
The idea to form a National Committee on North Korea originated during The Musgrove III Conference held in mid-May 2004, which was attended by many of the founding committee members. The first meeting was held on November 4, 2004.