Map of North Korea ( ASIAPRESS)

◆ Increase in “food-short households”

―― What is the food situation at the farm? We’ve heard that there were starving people at the farm in April.

D:  It’s a serious situation. There are more food-short households now than in April. One work team is made up of around 10 people, and 4-6 people – around half of a work team – have been classified as food-short households. There are so many people who can’t even have one or two meals per day. Many people are suffering from facial swelling (due to starvation).

※ Food-short households refers to people who have no cash or food on hand.


―― Is the government taking any measures to deal with starvation among farmers?

D:  There’s no support from the government. The county (government) and collective farm have simply been ordered to deal with the situation on their own. They say there’s no food for people living in agricultural areas because food supplies have been given out to people locked down in cities.

Up until last year, the usual practice was to hand out food reserves to farmers in advance with the expectation that the farmers would pay for the food after the fall harvest. The government stopped permitting the practice this year. Moreover, farmers are no longer able to obtain high-interest loans to purchase food because the government has called the act of loaning money to farmers “anti-socialist behavior.” In response, farmers are demanding that the government should step in to provide loans instead.

The situation in agricultural areas is very severe, so much so that the government has promoted the fact that it has sent cadres to farming areas to solve problems they are facing…This year’s harvest is a total wash.


――We’ve heard that lockdowns in urban areas have been loosened enough to allow city workers to be sent to agricultural areas.

D:  Companies have begun sending their employees to agricultural areas by creating so-called “agricultural mobilization labor brigades.” They say that these brigades will stay in agricultural areas until the farming period is over because any increase in the movement of people could lead to the spread of COVID-19. Once the coronavirus situation stabilizes, anyone able enough to do so will be sent to agricultural areas.

※ ASIAPRESS communicates with its reporting partners through Chinese cell phones smuggled into North Korea.