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N. Korea should open up and ask for food aid
MAY 18, 2013 05:30  
North Korea is releasing its rice reserves to feed its residents. For the past three months, the North has been using its military rice provisions in its major cities such as Pyongyang, Hyesan and Chongjin to ration 15 days worth of grains to adult workers and 10 day뭩 worth of food to their dependents, suggesting the impoverished communist country뭩 dire food shortages that forced it to use military food provisions. During its severe economic crisis in the mid-1990s, the North reduced military food provisions but did not use them for rations.

The North뭩 food shortage is not a recent matter but this year뭩 crisis was caused by its leader Kim Jong Un. Strengthened sanctions on the North following its long-range rocket launch and a nuclear test have significantly reduced humanitarian food aid from the outside. Though China used to provide the North with large-scale food assistance around April 15, the birthday of North Korea뭩 founder Kim Il Sung, Beijing did not do so this year. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations projected that North Korea needs to import 510,000 tons of grains this year but was able to import only 12,400 tons during the first four months of this year. Therefore, the North will likely suffer from severe food shortages until June, when barleys and wheat will be harvested, according to the U.N. agency.

Marking Kim Il Sung뭩 100th birth anniversary last year, Kim Jong Un promised that the country would never ask its people to tighten their belts again. North Korean residents might have harbored some hope, but the reality remained the same. It is unusual that there is no popular uprising in the North. It is Pyongyang뭩 desperate attempt to appease its people to ration military rice.

According to the World Health Organization, South Korean뭩 life expectancy is 81, 12 years longer than that of North Koreans. It is the evil result of the Kim Il Sung family뭩 68-year hereditary dictatorship. If Kim Jong Un intends to let its people live, he should open up its country and ask for humanitarian assistance from the outside world. If the North gives up its confrontational policy, South Korea would be the first one to lend a helping hand.

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