The DPRK starves its citizens
This is a false accusation, and one deliberately repeated several times by western imperialist media to relentlessly attack the DPRK, its government, its party, and its people.
The soil and land in the northern part of Korea is not suitable for agriculture as arable land amounts to 17% of total landmass, and it is subject to volatile weather patterns that cause severe complications. This natural issue combined with the lack of ideal agricultural resources were among the main culprits for the well known famine that transpired in the 1990′s. At the time, the DPRK was also isolated, and confronting the collapse of the Soviet Union along with several other socialist countries. Combined with repeated floods droughts, this dangerous mix caused much harm to the people of North Korea but they nonetheless struggled against this ordeal and have been on the offensive ever since.
In the West, knowledge of the Arduous March is generally quite limited, many “analysts” and DPRK “experts” often going so far as to claim that the famine was directly caused by the “Kim regime” in order to starve out resistance (a nonsensical claim which amerikkkan propagandists have been utilizing against socialist states since the 1920s.) For an example of the severity of the flood period, in Pyongsan county in North Hwanghae province, 87.7 centimeters of rain were recorded to have fallen in seven hours. The engorged Yalu River saw its highest water levels in 70 years in 1995, contributing to the 1.5 million tons in grain reserves destroyed as a result of flooding in that year alone, pairing with 1.2 million tons of lost grain production resulting from washed out fields.
The DPRK lost roughly 85% of its power generation capacity during the 1994-1996 flood period, with hydroelectric power plants suffering severe damage, the flooding of several coal mines, severe damage done to roads and railways utilized in the transport of coal, among various other damages to vital infrastructure. Nearly all hydroelectric turbines along the Yalu River were severely damaged, while the electric rail lines powered by those turbines were now out of operation, further stunting the ability to transport coal along the remaining railways due to the reliance on electric trains rather than oil or coal engines. Said damages actually lead to a greater reliance on coal driven trains out of necessity, requiring long retired coal engines from the 50s and 60s being brought back into operation. In the West, it took no time at all for the mocking articles to come out regarding the DPRKs “ancient” trains.
As a further result of the severe damages of the Arduous March, the DPRKs isolationist policy was scaled down, and a major effort directed towards food security. By the mid 2010′s food waste in the DPRK had reached a lower level than that in other low-income countries, and an equal level to major developing East Asian nations:
Cereal production, which is an important metric of indication of how
well a country can stave off famine, has been steadily increasing since
Infant and child mortality have decreased to the point where they are comparable to the major developing East Asian countries. Stunting (low height for age), once among the highest in the world, has also decreased to being close to the world age:
But as direct consequence of U.S. imperialism and active sanctions, the issue of food security is having a difficult time seeing further improvements. As we pointed out before, due to the low percentage of arable land and unstable climate foreign imports are important for food security in the DPRK. Sanctions from imperialist countries act as a blockade and limit food availability for the average citizen.
Somewhere in the range of 60% of North Koreans obtain food from informal markets, not exclusively from government sources. Access to these markets requires money. Current sanctions restrict workers from obtaining income (from fishing, for instance). Therefore these economic sanctions under no circumstance are aimed at the DPRK’s nuclear programme nor affect its development – they’re a direct attack on North Korean workers.
Some will argue that if the DPRK terminated its nuclear programme, the U.S. and other imperialist countries would follow through and remove the sanctions, thus alleviating the pressure on the DPRK. History show us that the United States never respects the agreements its government signs and uses international bureaucratic organs as tools for its own pursuits.
We can only hope that the current warm up in relations between the north and south of Korea develop into strong economic ties that allow both nations to co-exist under global capitalism, but also resolutely oppose U.S. imperialism, the sanctions imposed by imperialist nations, and move closer to re-unification.