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North Koreans urged to use 'self-reliance' to overcome hunger

Friday, August 8, 2008 Free Headline Alerts


North Korean media are taking the unusual step of acknowledging the severe shortage of foreign aid and the resulting food shortage this summer, according to U.S. officials.

The government-controlled media have characterized the shortage of foreign food aid as not limited to North Korea.

On July 24, Pyongyang state television quoted a North Korean researcher as explicitly describing the limitations of foreign food donations and urging increased efforts toward "self-reliance".

O Tae-ho, a researcher at the Economic Institute of the Academy of Social Sciences, said, “As we discussed earlier, the world is currently short on food and food prices have become very high.

"Under these conditions, it is difficult to go to other countries to purchase food, and we cannot turn to other countries. No country is saying it will give us food now, either. Under these circumstances, I believe the only way (for us to overcome the food crisis) is to attain self-sufficiency by producing food on our own.”

U.S. officials said it is rare for Pyongyang’s communist media to directly state the limitations of foreign aid in solving food shortages. In the past, reports of foreign aid were brief and expressed in relatively positive terms, such as Chinese and Russian food donations.

The program, "Let Us Farm Effectively on Our Own To Cope With the Global Food Crisis," focused on differences from what it called the current global food crisis from previous global food crises, the causes of rising food prices, and how North Korea can overcome the global food problem.

The research said some countries have donated food but that the donations cannot be used to solve the crisis. “We should believe in our strength, produce food in our country's fields with our strength, and eat and survive on it. This is the only way. In short, I believe self-reliance is the only way (to overcome the food crisis)," O stated.

North Korea’s government has mismanaged the economy for decades and in the 1990s a famine led to the death of over 1 million people. Reports of cannibalism also were obtained by U.S. intelligence.

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