News / Asia

    North Korean Defections Continue Amid Food Shortage

    Visitors look at a painting of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, painted by North Korean defector Sun Moo, at the Korea War Memorial Museum in Seoul, South Korea, 26 Oct 2010.
    Visitors look at a painting of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, painted by North Korean defector Sun Moo, at the Korea War Memorial Museum in Seoul, South Korea, 26 Oct 2010.

    The South Korean government says that more than 10,000 North Koreans reached the South during the past three years.

    South Korea's government said Monday the total number of North Korean defectors has surpassed 20,000 since the end of fighting in the Korean War in 1953.

    Unification Ministry spokeswoman Lee Jong-joo says number 20,000 arrived in South Korea last Thursday.

    "The 20,000th defector was a 41-year-old woman identified only as Kim. She came from Yanggang province, North Korea, with her two sons," Lee said.

    About half of the defectors have arrived since 2007. Around 2,900 defected just last year.

    Unification Ministry officials say they expect the number of defectors to steadily increase because of continued economic hardship and hunger in the impoverished country.

    The two Koreas are divided by a heavily fortified border, so most travel through China before reaching here.

    Aid groups say tens of thousands more defectors may be hiding in China. The Chinese government returns any it finds to North Korea.

    The number of defectors began rising after North Korea was swept by famine in the mid-1990's.

    The food situation in the North has again become critical.

    Victoria Sekitoleko is the Food and Agricultural Organization's regional representative, and most recently visited North Korea in September. Monday she said that more than 30 percent of all North Koreans are facing substantial undernourishment.

    "I have visited homes, I have visited schools, I see these people along the road. I go where they go," she said. "Wherever I go you look in the eyes of somebody and you see a starving person."

    Sekitoleko says it would not take much additional outside assistance for North Korea to reach a basic level of self-sufficiency when it comes to food.

    "If they can have the amount of fertilizer of 700k tons annually. If they can have the seeds - because until now, they do not have good high-tech seeds. And if they could have the fuel, plus the spare parts (for farm equipment) I'm sure they can produce enough food to feed their country," Sekitoleko states.

    Aid officials say sanctions on Pyongyang, because of its nuclear program, have made donor nations reluctant to provide aid. China, South Korea and the U.N's World Food Program are the primary sources of food assistance for North Korea.

    FAO's Sekitoleko says the U.N. programs tasked with helping reduce the food shortage are underfunded. "The world has told us to be there but they are starving us of any resources," Sekitoleko said.

    The U.N.'s World Food Program executive director, Josette Sheeran, who visited North Korea earlier this month, says her agency has only about 20 percent of the money it needs to fund its project to boost nutrition among women and children in North Korea.

    The FAO is expected to release its latest report on the food situation in North Korea early this week.

    The food shortage has worsened in recent years because of flooding. The FAO says the most recent flood hit at the peak of the vegetable-growing season.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora