Serious food insecurity in Hwanghae Province has not been alleviated since it emerged back in late spring, according to Ishimaru Jiro, the director of the Osaka-based ASIAPRESS.
Ishimaru researched the issue between the end of August and early September, speaking to North Korean residents and recent defectors from the area. The results, he told Daily NK, suggest that many in the region are suffering from extreme food insecurity and that this is leading to multiple deaths and other social problems.
“This year has seen people starving and suffering from malnutrition in Hwanghae Province more than at any time since the ‘March of Tribulation’,” Ishimaru asserted to Daily NK on the 25th. “With rations having been cut and the authorities pouring money into the missile launch and Day of the Sun celebrations rather than buying food, the situation has become very serious.”
“The cause is excessive procurement for the army and for the capital,” he went on. “In particular, instead of actively trying to solve the starvation problem the authorities have held off on buying food, actually collected more rice from farms than in other years, and then spent their money on the missile test, April 15th events and the development of an amusement park instead.”
“Kim Jong Eun is prioritizing his own problems while basically victimizing the farming people,” he added critically. “It is clear from this that the important thing to the Kim regime is not guaranteeing his fellow countrymen’s right to food; it is the army and the people of Pyongyang City who are needed to maintain the regime.”
Ishimaru added that crime rates are rising in the areas afflicted by food shortages as people struggle to secure enough food to survive. In particular, he pointed to skyrocketing levels of thievery.
“Currently, people in Hwanghae Province say that the dead are morons while those who steal or kill to survive are heroes,” he said. “The number of kkotjaebi [child beggars] going to the regional cities of Haeju and Sariwon to find food is rising, and they are causing many social problems.”
Ishimaru plans to go personally to the international community to explain the current starvation problem in parts of North Korea, one that is so serious that, in his opinion, it should be branded ‘The Great Hwanghae Province Famine of 2012’.