Changchun, China — The UN Food and Agriculture Organization predicted early in September that North Korea’s rice and corn yield this year would be seriously reduced, and that North Korea would need 1.7-1.8 million tons of food aid as a result. Kim Soon Kwon, the director of the International Corn Foundation, agreed that North Korea is at least 1 million tons of food short this year.
For their part, Chosun Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on September 28th that both Russia and Vietnam had donated rice to North Korea. Expert analysts say that making such a revelation internationally means that a food security crisis is impending.
Meanwhile, inside North Korea the authorities are trying to soothe the fears of the citizens by spreading rumors that foreign food aid is on the way.
Nevertheless, with the harvest at its potentially disastrous peak, rumors of a second March of Tribulation are circulating among the people. As a result, inside sources report that rice wholesalers have started hoarding stocks from across the country, threatening to exacerbate the problem.
As of the 11th of this month, Chinese rice was 2,500 North Korean won per kilogram in the Hyesan jangmadang while North Korean rice was 2,700 won. Although it is fall, traditionally a time of price drops, prices are actually rising.
In Hoiryeong, North Hamkyung Province, workers in the Hoiryeong Grain Processing Factory, Hoiryeong Shoe Factory and Primary Food Factory received rations, and general citizens also received a special one month of supplies. However, rice prices have climbed by around 300 won since June, reaching 2,300 won per kilogram.
A source from Yangkang Province told the Daily NK on the 11th, “People are saying the March of Tribulation has just started, while talk of the ‘100-Day Battle’ has already disappeared, even among cadres.”
Since the March of Tribulation in the late 1990s, the authorities have at least distributed food after the harvest in order to solve urgent problems, but this year there has been no such distribution, and cadres are just telling people to find their own way to survive somehow.
The source said, “They yielded 15 tons of potatoes per hectare in Yangkang Province, which is the biggest potato producing district. Farmers have to leave 8 tons of potatoes per hectare as seeds for next year’s crop, so they have just 7 tons left.”
Converted into corn or rice, this is equal to producing 1.6 tons per hectare.
As a result, for example, the Agricultural Accounting Committee of Yangkang Province has handed a decree down to party bodies and places of work, telling them to “Get food through negotiations with farms in your own way.” It implies that this year the state stores will be for the military or powerful classes.
The source explained confirmed the hypothesis, “While it is hard to get a single potato for the workers, the National Security Agency, the Prosecutors Office and other key organizations got at least five months of distribution. Teachers and doctors both received one month.”