The economic horror is human terms is likely to be true, but the timing of this latest set of pleas from a government that refuses to take correctional actions is suspicious.
Normally, the most difficult time for Koreans to feed themselves is in late spring when winter supplies run out and before the spring barley harvest may be harvested. This annual food shortage was so consistent that the Koreans gave the time of year a special name – bori gogye – meaning “barley mountain pass.”
So the question is why is the DPRK asking at a time when they should be best enjoying the fruits of this year’s harvest? Possibly they are anticipating donor nations to dither on to cough up foreign aid given the global economic situation, underscored with donor fatigue towards North Korea.
The other and probably best answer is provided below. Unusually heavy and prolonged summer rains have destroyed this year’s crop. Yet, last weekend I traveled to Andong and I witnessed along the way what looked like near bumper South Korean rice crops being harvested that had withstood the same heavy summer downpours.
All of which brings us back to the perennial North Korean aid dilemma. On humanitarian grounds, the North Korean people do not deserve to starve – and yet they fiercely support their government that they are convinced is standing up for them vis-a-via a hostile world. Yet it is this very government that is the real cause for their suffering. Which in turn brings to the perennial North Korean question: when will all of this end? And more cynically stated, is aid better donated elsewhere?
Crisis Grips North Korean Rice Bowl
By Tim Large
October 6, 2011