A growing alarm is sounding over a potential North Korea food crisis among analysis’s who track the world’s most isolated country.

Kim Jong Un, leader of North Korea, has called the second party meeting in three months to address growing and grave food concerns in the closed-off republic. Although real-time and trusted information is nearly impossible to secure out of the world’s most isolated country, South Korea alleges reports of starvation and deaths due to widespread food shortages.

Analysts believe North Korea is experiencing its worst food shortage in decades since the massive famine of the 1990s. At that time, millions of North Koreans died of starvation in a famine brought on by cruel and ineffective policies as well as isolationist policies that prevented a necessary level of global response. It is not believed that the present food crisis in North Korea has reached the level of what was known as the Arduous March in the 1990s, but it is the worst the country has experienced since that time.

North Korea food crisis
09/08/18, Hamhung, North-Korea: a North Korean propaganda planned economy site with a few people sorting grains of maize

The current crisis results from a fall in North Korean crop production and food distribution problems. The government clamped down on the distribution of rice and other grains in the last year, which is believed to have disrupted food supplies. The coronavirus pandemic has further exacerbated food shortages in North Korea. The best available data suggests at least a 3.8% drop in 2022 North Korean crop production compared to the year before.

North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party usually meets twice a year, but they are meeting again this week, only two months after their last party discussions. The objective of this meeting is to “dynamically promote radical change in agricultural development.” It is the first party gathering for specific and primary discussions related to agriculture and food supplies.

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JB Shreve is the author of "How the World Ends: Understanding the Growing Chaos." He has been the host of the End of History podcast since 2012. He has degrees in International Relations and Middle East Studies. His other books include the Intelligence Brief Series. Regular posts and updates from JB Shreve are available at www.theendofhistory.net