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North Korea on the Brink of Another Famine

The United Nations has issued a report indicating that North Korea is on the verge of yet another famine. A typical North Korean citizen will spend up to a third of their monthly income to purchase a mere two pounds of rice. These already difficult living conditions have led to UNICEF reports about the stunted underdevelopment of North Korean children under Kim Jong-il’s reign. Despite the on-going food shortage, North Korea cut the donations from the World Food Program to a sixth of its previous capacity in recent years.

North Korea’s last famine spanned from 1995 through 1998 because of varying international politics, poor decision-making and natural disasters. Despite the isolated regime’s official claim that only 220,000 people perished of starvation, the United Nations believed more than a million people died during the three year famine. The survivors went on with shortened life spans and severe health issues from malnourishment; though the problem is largely unseen as the DPRK restricts the outside media from reporting and aide groups from assisting.

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Does anyone remember Kim Jong Il trying to purchase Giant German Rabbits for food?

How about just growing your own meat!

This, and the many other cases like it are sad. If there were a neighborhood bully keeping a community trapped to the point that they couldn’t work, couldn’t leave the area, couldn’t earn enough to feed themselves, we’d never stand for it. The police would be called in, and that would be the end of it. Yet, when we encounter this same type of behavior on the scale of a country, it’s considered improper to correct the situation. The UN and the rest of the world can condemn the situation, wring their hands, perhaps even ship in some food, but any thought of sending in the police — NATO, some other military power, or helping the South clean up the situation — is quickly and universally condemned.

The people suffering, be they in North Korea, Zimbabwe, Uguanda, the Sudan, or elsewhere be damned: it’s a question of national sovereignty, regardless of how poorly the sovereign is behaving. It’s difficult for me to square this abstract principal with the very real suffering that it can bring about.

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