There is a growing volume of testimony to suggest that food insecurity in Hwanghae Province is now particularly bad, and in a significant number of areas has tipped over into starvation and death. Much of the evidence for this has been published since May 7th by ASIAPRESS, a Japanese group with video journalists working inside North Korea.
Example interviews published in Korean by ASIAPRESS include a woman in her 40s from South Hwanghae Province who claimed that for her the “situation is more difficult than during the ‘March of Tribulation’,” referring to the famine that killed many hundres of thousands of North Koreans in the 1990s.
“The food situation is worse than it was three years ago,” the woman went on. “The waiting room at the station in Sariwon in North Hwanghae Province is overflowing with beggar children, both boys and girls, younger and older.”
A man in his 30s from South Hwanghae Province also testified similarly, saying that “Malnutrition is getting more prevalent for farmers. The farming is going really badly.”
Another witness, from North Hamkyung Province but with experience of visiting Hwanghae, claimed, “I heard from a Hwanghae Province resident that people dead from starvation are appearing in Haeju every day. It is surprising that something like this can happen in the ‘rice region’; by this standard it seems that the situation in North Hamkyung is actually not that bad.”
ASIAPRESS believes the main causes of the extreme food insecurity in the region to be: ▲ decreased food production due to flooding; ▲ food procurement for Day of the Sun events in other areas, mostly Pyongyang; and additional ▲ market stagnation.
In other words, the testimonies obtained by ASIAPRESS suggest in particular that the authorities have been demanding excessive volumes of food from farms while failing to revive flooded farmland. In essence, food production has decreased but food procurement and removal to other regions has risen.
One farmer from South Hwanghae Province commented, “The floods last year washed away most of the fields in coastal areas. In early spring productivity was particularly bad, because rain hit when the flowers were blooming. In addition, productivity was reduced because we couldn’t get fertilizer and water supplies were dodgy because there was little electricity.”
Commenting on his organization's major findings, Director Jiro Ishimaru concluded, “The cause of the food crisis in Hwanghae Province cannot be put down to an agricultural slump, but to the exploitation and excessive procurement of the authorities. The reason for the food crisis is man-made.”
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