A North Korean defector activist who requested anonymity told JoongAng Ilbo reporter Lee Young-jong a chronic food shortage is spreading throughout North Korea and ordinary people are “suffering” because in some areas the public distribution system has been suspended.
“There are stories the distribution network has virtually collapsed, not only in Pyongyang but also in regional cities,” the source said, adding worries about price instability are hampering the proper distribution of groceries in informal markets.
North Koreans are fearful of a second Great Famine, when as many as 3 million North Koreans may have died.
Seoul’s unification ministry and national intelligence service are not alarmed, however. Both agencies have said sanctions have hit North Korea but the state has not reached a stage where it needs emergency relief, according to Lee.
That position contradicts statements from the Food and Agriculture Organization, which stated in its Global Report on Food Crises that 41 percent of the population, or 10.5 million people, are undernourished in North Korea.