[imText1]The recent food situation in North Korea is proven to be getting worse. The World Food Program (WPF) emergency report released on April 29 stated that “The PDC (Public Distribution Center) rations remains at 250 grams/person/day, less than 50 percent of the daily energy requirements.”
The WFP further reported that the ration will continue to be 250 grams until June, but it will decrease to 200 grams from July. How much is 250g per day and is it possible to extend life with such an amount?
The Common People Unable to Get 250g
In the past, daily food ration for North Korean adults was 700g, high school students 500g, elementary students 400g, and the rest (senior, housewives, and children under school age) 300g. This standard was applied until 1980s but was gradually ignored since the 1990s once the food crisis started.
The WFP reported 250g is the amount given to a working person.
The head of the family is “a working person,” the family is able to receive the amount of food according to the standard, but if he stops working, the food ration also stops. This is the “food politics.” At the time, ratio of grain distributed was 30% of rice and 70% mixed grains. However, once the food crisis started, the ratio was ignored, and food was distributed only in terms of amount.
North Korean people rely entirely on cereals for food. They cannot afford to feed animals since they cannot even feed themselves and without the greenhouses, they cannot find any edible plants until the summer. The common people do not have side dishes. Apart from the little amount of plants they eat during the summer, they entirely rely on cereals.
However, the WFP report did not check each houses, but divided the amount of food in the storage by the number of population, therefore if we subtract the number of people who receive special rations from the military and special agencies, the actual amount of food distributed to the people would be lower than 250g.
April to June Ridge of Barley, Only Those Who Experienced Know
Although the threat of food shortage is always present for the North Korean people but especially between March and June when new plants are yet to be grown and potatoes not yet mature. During the spring time when people feel biologically hungry and sleepy, people must intake more nutrition, so it is especially difficult to overcome the spring season. Although it is said many people die of diseases, it is actually that people are so weak and vulnerable that they starve to death.
Most of the North Korean people have stories about a handful of food. For example, a family set around to eat the gruel of plants cooked with a handful of corn powder. The plants in the gruel include plantain leaves and other edible weeds. After eating the same gruel for one weak everybody’s face becomes swollen and their stomach ballooned. This is because the plants contain poison but people are unable to take out the poison.
Also, people eat roots of wheat, bean, and arrowroot stocks. They try them and grain them into powder and mix them with corn powder to make breads. The one who suffer the most are children, pregnant women and the old people. The children miss school to look for plants or beg food in the markets. Some children miss as many as three days in a row in search for plants.
Buying and Selling of Food Tickets Cuts Down the Price to 1/5
Food distribution in North Korea has much to do with malpractice and corruption. First the food is taken by the influential government agencies and the rest are taken to the people. Such government agencies include the military, the Party, Safety Department, Security Department, and other special agencies. The food allotted to these agencies must be first delivered due to the Kim Jong Il’s order.
Since the food situation started to deteriorate in North Korea, Kim Jong Il gave an order of “provide food to the military first.” For this reason, all the officials with stars on their shoulder submitted report to be include in the “subject to receive the military food.” Most of the people in the Safety Department, Security Department, and even the patrols became subjects to receive the military food.
Since the order came from the Supreme Commander, the military takes every grain of food. Even if the military menace the farmers at the cooperative farms to give them food with guns, there is nothing one can do. If they are killed with the guns, the military could always report that he deserved to die because he oppose to the military first politics.
The special class also receives their foods allotted. The Party, People’s Committee’s Food Allotment Department and their workers circulate and manage the national food and the international food aid however they want. The people can obtain food with the food tickets issued by the Food Allotment Department. However, the tickets become as worthless as toilet papers when there is no food left in the PDCs.
Then the common people go out and sell the tickets. Even if the ticket says Rice 10kg, they are sold at the price of 2kg of rice. Then those people in power buy the tickets, obtain food with connection and resell the tickets at them markets to illegally earn profit. At the end, it is only the common people march on the “March of Suffering.”