N. Korean defectors report starvation after harvests ‘taken forcibly by the ruling class’

Special to WorldTribune.com

By Lee Jong-Heon, East-Asia-Intel.com

A growing number of North Koreans are starving to death, even in the country’s grain belt on the southwest coast, despite increased crop yields because soldiers and state officials are extorting the grain.

Farmers till the land in the North Korean hillside across from the Chinese border town of Hekou.

A defector who fled the North last summer said members of the ruling class would confiscate harvests and then blame the farmers for failing to meet regime-set production targets.

“In my county [in the North], most of the harvests were taken forcibly by the ruling class,” the defector told a local radio station run by fellow defectors in Seoul.

His testimony matched a report by Japan’s Tokyo Shimbun newspaper in April that about 20,000 North Koreans starved to death in South Hwanghae Province since the death of the country’s former ruler Kim Jong-Il in December 2011.

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