N. Korea's food shortage to worsen in H2: U.N. report

SEOUL, July 31 (Yonhap) — North Korea’s food security situation is expected to deteriorate in the next four months, a U.N. report has said, citing limited humanitarian access and trade disruptions as key factors leading to the country’s widening food gap.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) forecast in a joint report released Friday that the North is expected to be facing a food shortage of around 860,000 tons this year, “which is equivalent to approximately 2.3 months’ worth of food use.”

“Concerns are mounting over the food security situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, due to strained access and the potential impact of trade limitations, which may lead to food gaps,” the report on the August to November outlook said, referring to the North by its official name.

North Korea was among six countries added to the list of “hunger hotspots” compared with the agencies’ previous report released in March.

North Korea has tightened border controls and restricted trade to prevent COVID-19 from spreading in the country since the early stages of the pandemic.

“Measures to facilitate the import of bilateral and multilateral food assistance, and/or significant levels of commercial imports, will be required if this gap is to be covered,” the report said.

North Korea is known for chronic food shortages, which appear to have been aggravated last year due to back-to-back typhoons and flooding in key farming areas.

At a key party meeting last month, the North’s leader Kim Jong-un acknowledged that his country is facing a “tense” food shortage, calling for measures to resolve the problem.

In this file photo captured from the Korean Central Television Broadcasting Station on Aug. 7, 2020, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) with a grave look listens to an official during a visit to a flood-ravaged village in Unpha, North Hwanghae Province. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)