12 February 2009
North Korea has clamped down on fast-growing free markets for fear they could undermine the communist state's power over its people, analysts and observers say. The regime in late November banned general markets which sell consumer goods from early next year. It severely restricted the operations of food stalls, according to the Daily NK web newspaper and other analysts. [...] Staples such as rice and corn will be sold only at state distribution centres. [...] Kim Yong-Hyun, a North Korea studies professor at Dongguk University, said the state is trying to reassert control over distribution because sharp price rises have put basic commodities beyond the reach of ordinary people. [...] North Korea may have to ease the clampdown because it cannot solve food shortages and state stores do not have enough products to sell, he said. Chronic food shortages worsened this year, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Food Programme said in a joint report last week. About 40 percent of the population -- an estimated 8.7 million people -- will urgently need food aid in coming months, they said.
10 February 2009
Hyun In-taek, the nominee for unification minister, on Monday pledged to restore inter-Korean dialogue "as soon as possible." Hyun, who has already incurred North Korea's ire, added, "The dispatch of a special envoy to the North would be one way to suggest dialogue." [...] Hyun pledged to consider humanitarian aid, including food aid through the UN World Food Programme.
4 February 2009
North Korea's state media said Wednesday that China has offered Pyongyang aid, a deal that was likely reached at a recent meeting between reclusive leader Kim Jong Il and a senior Chinese official. The Korean Central News Agency said in a brief dispatch that the aid will be "an encouragement" to North Koreans in their efforts to build "a great, prosperous, powerful nation." It did not say what kind or how much aid China had offered. The impoverished communist country has resorted to outside handouts to help feed its 23 million people since its centrally controlled economy collapsed in the mid-1990s due to natural disasters and mismanagement.
17 January 2009
A U.S. expert says North Korea is looking for "positive steps" from the Obama administration to improve relations between the two countries. North Korea may be signaling some of its priorities include heavy fuel oil and long-term food aid. [...] Earlier this month, the United States sent out a shipment of food to North Korea. The U.S. State Department said it would not stop food aid to the country, but also cited problems with North Korea not issuing visas for Korean-speaking U.N. World Food Program workers.
31 December 2008
reeted the New Year by repeating its pledge to rid the peninsula of nuclear weapons and hinting it could work with Barack Obama when he becomes the U.S. president, editorials said on Thursday. The communist North, which uses joint editorials in its state newspapers on New Year's Day to lay out its policy priorities for the year, also pledged to rebuild its faltering economy and improve the quality of life for its 23 million people. [...] North Korea relies on food handouts from international aid agencies such as the U.N. World Food Program, while the United States in 2008 pledged to provide major food aid.
- WFP official thanks Russia for supplying flour to DPR Korea Source: TASS
- Concern as severe weather hits North Korean crops Source: Reuters
- North Korea Famine Not Imminent but Flood Impact Not Yet Clear: U.N. Source: The New York Times / Reuters
- North Korea floods: Death toll raised, WFP sends food aid Source: BBC News
- Flooded North Korea Hit by More Torrential Rain Source: The New York Times / Reuters