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article imageOp-Ed: North Korea facing famine, even army starving in new video

By Paul Wallis     Jun 26, 2011 in World
The North Korean people suffered a famine in the late 90s which is believed to have killed up to 2 million people. ABC Australia has obtained a new video smuggled out of the country showing a nation with children begging in the streets.
The state is no longer distributing food, even to the army.North Korea is best known as an anachronism to the rest of the world, staging provocative attacks on South Korea and issuing endless threats. The country has followed the typical Cold War line, beggaring itself for weapons, including a nuclear arsenal and missiles at the expense of the domestic economy.
The new video was smuggled out of China by one of a group of trained expatriate North Koreans, trying to get information out to the world about the condition of their impoverished and oppressed homeland. It’s an appalling sight. The children aren’t even clean. They’re wearing a strange assortment of obviously filthy clothes, while their fellow citizens build a private railway for Kim Jong Un, third son of Kim Jong Il.
In one part of the new video a North Korean soldier says that half of his unit of 100 soldiers are starving. The related ABC article also states that private stores are now open with lots of food, but obviously these stores aren’t meant to supply the population as a whole, just those who can afford it.
In the 90s the world was as baffled as outraged by the clear impoverishment of the North Korean people, who were literally eating grass attempting to survive. Thousands of refugees fled to China, creating a humanitarian crisis. The cycle is apparently repeating itself while North Korea continues to rattle its sabres.
The political issues are complex, but not insoluble. China has little use for its inept and somewhat nominal ally, which is a liability in any possible sense of the word. China would directly benefit from having a united Korea on its borders, with the vigorous South Korean economic model as a partner. China is capable of supplying food to North Korea, but apparently that’s not happening on any large scale. It would seem that the Chinese are no longer interested in supporting a failed state, and the relationship between Beijing and Pyongyang is lukewarm at best.
The days of North Korea are numbered. The politics and Cold War environment of the Korean War are long gone. North Korea is no longer a strategic issue, just a local nuisance. Only North Korea is keeping alive the futile memory of the conflict. North Korea has neither the resources nor the administrative and economic talent to revive itself.
It’s unlikely that the regime will survive any prolonged famine. In the 90s it had capital. Now it simply has a few more weapons and not much buying capacity to import food on the scale required to feed the nation. Time is running out for the last vestige of Stalinism.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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