In a statement that has sparked despair among citizens, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has asked the people of the country to limit their food intake and “eat less till 2025” in view of the soaring food crisis in the country.
While food shortages were already affecting North Koreans, citizens have been told to further tighten their belts and prepare for food scarcity for another four years by officials due to lack of supply.
The primary reason for this is that the country has closed all its borders and had forbidden all its regular imports of goods from China since the start of the pandemic in early 2020 as a precautionary measure. However, this has now affected the economy to such an extent that food prices are soaring as supply is now lacking in the country.
The North Korean government has been moving for self-reliance since the beginning of this year. One of leader Kim Jong Un’s key messages in the eighth congress of the ruling Korean Workers’ Party in January was for the country to decrease dependence on imports and solve its own problems. As per reports, authorities have maintained that the possibility of reopening customs between North Korea and China before 2025 are very slim.
Meanwhile, the government has blamed the situation on factors beyond its control such as international sanctions imposed on them and natural disasters. Last year, North Korea suffered severe flooding which damaged vital crops and left hundreds of families without homes. This year, crops were also damaged by droughts and subsequent flooding.
Kim Jong Un has acknowledged a ‘tense’ food situation that could worsen if all of the crops fail, aggravating economic problems amid strict self-imposed border and movement restrictions that have slowed trade to a trickle.
According to sources of Radio Free Asia, “The food situation right now is already clearly an emergency, and the people are struggling with shortages. When the authorities tell them that they need to conserve and consume less food until 2025… they can do nothing but feel great despair.”
“Some of the residents are saying that the situation right now is so serious they don’t know if they can even survive the coming winter. They say that telling us to endure hardship until 2025 is the same as telling us to starve to death,” the source said, adding “They resent the unrealistic demands of the authorities, asking how much tighter they could possibly tighten their belts.”.
The people are criticizing the government’s inaction on solving the food crisis and are worried that the border will remain closed even if they are dying of starvation. “Criticism is coming out that the government’s emphasis on saving food might be because the Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un is not aware of how serious the food situation is,” RFA reported.
According to a report of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, North Korea would be short about 860,000 tons of food this year, which is about two months’ consumption. The UN World Food Program estimates that about 40% of North Korea’s population is undernourished.