With the harvest ending, international observers say North Korea’s food and economic situation is precarious, and there are signs that the country is increasing trade and receiving large shipments of humanitarian aid through China.
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South Korea’s intelligence agency said at a closed-door parliament session on Thursday (10/28/2021) that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had issued an order calling for every grain of rice to be secured and all-out efforts be devoted to agriculture.
However, according to South Korean lawmakers, Seoul’s spy agency judged that this harvest may be better than last year’s due to the sunnier weather.
Intelligence, as quoted Reuters, Friday (10/29/2021), also said that North Korea is taking steps to reopen its borders with China and Russia in the coming months.
North Korea has long suffered from food insecurity, with observers saying economic mismanagement was exacerbated by international sanctions over its nuclear weapons, natural disasters and now the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting an unprecedented border lockdown there.
Kim Jong-un has acknowledged the “tense” food situation and apologized for the sacrifices people have had to make to prevent the coronavirus outbreak.
But he also said the economy had improved this year, and North Korea disputed a report from UN investigators this month that said thousands of its most vulnerable people were at risk of starvation.