North Korea releases army rice supply amid scarcity: Seoul – Times of India

SEOUL: North Korea release the emergency army rice reserves as its food shortage worsens, the South Korean spy agency said on Tuesday, with a heat wave and drought reducing the country’s supply.
The country’s dying economy is continually hit by the protracted Covid-19 pandemic, and although no mass starvation and social chaos have been reported, observers expect the food situation to deteriorate further. North Korea until the fall harvest.
Seoul‘s National Intelligence Service said in a closed-door parliamentary committee meeting that North Korea was supplying rice reserved for wartime uses to citizens with little food, other workers and agencies of rural states, according to Ha Tae-keung, one of the lawmakers who attended the session.
Ha cited the start saying that an ongoing heat wave and drought have wiped out rice, corn and others cultures and killed cattle in North Korea. The NIS said that North Korean leaders regard drought relief as “a matter of national existence” and are focusing on raising public awareness of its campaign, Ha said.
Another lawmaker, Kim Byung-kee, quoted the NIS as saying that North Korea normally needs around 5.5 million tonnes of food to feed its 26 million people, but is currently running low on food. a million tonnes. He said the NIS has told lawmakers that North Korea is running low on grain stocks.
The price of rice, the most important crop in North Korea, has already doubled since the start of this year. The price briefly stabilized in July before soaring again, Kim said citing the NIS.
Ha said North Korea is trying to control the price of grain to which its public is most sensitive.
Lawmakers did not specify North Korea’s food situation or the measures it was taking.
Corn Kwon tae jin, an expert from the private GS&J institute in South Korea, said North Korea would likely free up military reserves to sell them below market prices in order to stabilize prices. He said rice prices are “considerably unstable” in North Korea because the government has a limit on the supply of this rice.
North Korea experienced similar food shortages in the last few years before the pandemic, according to Kwon, but its needs were met by smuggling rice and other grains through the North’s porous border with China. But ongoing border closures caused by a pandemic in the North have made it extremely difficult to carry out such smuggling, exacerbating this year’s food shortage, Kwon said.
The NIS has an uneven record in confirming developments in North Korea, one of the world’s top secret countries. But his latest assessment came after the North Korean leader, Kim jong un, admitted that his country was facing the “worst crisis ever” due to the pandemic and other hardships and even a possible severe food shortage.
At a key ruling party meeting in June, Kim urged officials to find ways to boost agricultural production, saying the country’s food situation “is now getting tense.” Earlier, he even compared the current hardships of the pandemic to a famine in the 1990s that killed hundreds of thousands of people.
Kwon said North Korea’s current food problem will persist until it harvests corn, rice and other grains in September and October. But he said North Korea is unlikely to suffer a humanitarian catastrophe like the famine of the 1990s, during which he said the public found little grain in most markets. Currently, he said that North Korean citizens can still buy high-priced grain in the markets if they have money.
Other experts say China, North Korea’s main ally and aid benefactor, is unlikely to allow massive famine to occur in the North. They say China is worried about the flooding of North Korean refugees across the border or the establishment of a unified pro-American Korea on its doorstep.

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