As North Korea heads into the time of year when its food supplies run low, it appears to be looking for new donors.
At a courtesy call on the Mongolian president last week, Pyongyang’s new ambassador made a request for food aid, according to the official website for the head of state.
“North Korea may face (a) severe food shortage,” Ambassador Hong Gyu told President Elbegdorj, according to the account. Mr. Hong then asked for Mongolia to consider the possibility of delivering food aid to North Korea, the account said.
North Korea’s toughest part of the year for food begins in April and runs through September, when the annual corn harvest begins. Kwon Tae-jin, a scholar on North Korean agriculture in Seoul said that last year’s yield was moderate, but not sufficient to tide the country over.
“We’ve learned that while rations are being delivered, it varies region by region,” said Dr. Kwon, a director at the Korea Rural Economic Institute in Seoul. “But it isn’t sufficient to go around for everyone.”
There are other signs of food shortages. Daily NK, a news website staffed by North Korean defectors, reported last week that Pyongyang did not distribute food to the northernmost province for the biggest holiday of the year; the April 15 anniversary of the birthday of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung.
Since the severe famine in the 1990s, North Korea has struggled to feed its people.
Assistance from international organizations and South Korea has dropped in recent years but President Park Geun-hye has pledged to continue providing aid to the North despite a deterioration in relations with Pyongyang.
– Wall Street Journal