North Korea bound for disaster

The famine in North Korea is a combination of several things. The country consists of 80 per cent mountains and therefore there is not farm land enough to supply the population of more than 23 million people with food.

The planting of the rice was finished on the 10th June, which is the date stipulated by the party in order that the harvesting can take place before winter comes on. In order to keep the time-limit the army,counting one million soldiers, was organized to help with the planting. Also the office workers from the big cities and the middle school pupils were sent out to the collective farms to lend them a hand in the rice fields.

Although everybody hopes for a reasonable crop this year it will not, according to all qualified estimates, exceed 5 million tons of rice. In other words, only 2/3 of the crop needed to give all of the 23 millions of North Koreans a daily survival ration of 450 grams rice a day.

In the attempt to reclaim more farm land the collective farms have in many places cleared the land and cut down the trees on the mountain slopes. Together with the heavy rainfalls during the past two years this has caused food stocks, fields, dikes and even entire villages to be washed away in 1995 as well as in 1996. Close on two thirds of the farm land was flooded.

The friends are gone

The people of North Korea do not have their communist friends and trade partners in Russia and China any more. They are left alone and have no significant export to other countries. That is why they have no foreign exchange with which to buy goods from outside the totally closed borders of the country.

Besides food and medicine, the country seriously lacks fuel. In the capital of Pyongyang it is possible - if you have a permission - to buy petrol or diesel oil. The golden drops can be obtained nowhere else in the country.

In the coutryside the few trucks you see are running on coal which is converted into gas. However, the functioning is very poor and the cars only drive short distances before they get overheated.

The military

North Korea is a closed country, the very last of its kind. A country where the inhabitants are taught that the rest of the world is evil and turned against them. That is why the leaders of the country can use all the resources and money they like for military purposes.

In spite of the lack of food the population praises the great army which is constantly in a state of total preparedness, should the political enemy from South Korea turn up together with the 35,000 American soldiers stationed south of the frontier between the two countries. Rumour has it that North Korea will be ready when the enemy comes.

In the world of reality the situation is quite different. The South Koreans want peace and co-operation and not war with their brothers from the north. And the major part of the South Korean population does not want to lower their standard of living drastically just to take over the paralyzed society in the north.

North Korea is in fact already at war with South Korea. The fact is that the Korean War (1950-53), which started after North Korea made an attack on South Korea, has never been brought to a close officially.

Text and photos: Tommy Nøddebo Mortensgaard