Korea, Democratic People's Republic (DPRK)

DPR Korea: The Dreams Of An Orphan
Published on 28 May 2013

WFP/Xuerong Liu

A reflection by WFP DPRK Field Coordinator Xuerong Liu

I have travelled many miles in this country, visited many people and seen the change of seasons in the landscape. At times, I look back and think about some of the children I have met through the year.

It was a day in August. I travelled with a delegation from WFP’s headquarters from Pyongyang to Wonsan in heavy rain. It normally takes three hours but this time it took us almost five. We had to travel through 15 tunnels on the way.  As we drove going through a tunnel four kilometres long, it was very misty and dark. Our car could hardly move, because of the water rising inside the tunnel.

We were relieved to finally see - literally - the light at the end of tunnel.

But all my fatigue from the long travel vanished when I met 13-year old Kim Gwang Song at the Wonsan Boarding School. Kim was very short and thin – looking more like a boy ageed somewhere between eight and ten. He was in grade 10 and had spent all his life in orphanages, starting in a baby home, then moving on to a child centre, and finally now to a boarding school. He had some hearing difficulty.

Despite all teh challenges of being raised without a family, Kim was very determined and confident. His favorite sport was running. He was interested in history. When I asked him about his ambitions in life, he without hesitation replied, “I would like to be a farmer when I grow up." I really hope his ambition will come true.

My ambition for now is to visit him again – and this time hopefully with less rain on the road.

WFP provides specialized rations to 10,500 orphanage children living in baby homes, child centres and boarding schools. Depending on their age, children receives between 375 – 435 grams of nutrition assistance per day. As these children have higher needs for food assistance and nutritional support a ration per day costs 42 US cents. Due to a lack of resources, WFP is currently only able to distribute 100 grams of nutritious Super Cereal to children in orphanages.


WFP Offices
About the author

Marcus Prior

Deputy Head of Programme

Marcus, a former journalist, has worked in WFP Communications for 10 years in Africa and Asia. Deputy Head of Programme in Afghanistan, currently deployed in Iraq for a mission.