If you thought inflation was a concern in the United States, then what North Korea is currently experiencing makes it look like nothing.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un acknowledged at a political meeting this week that the food supply in North Korea is “getting tense,” according to CNN, which cited the Korean state media.
“The agricultural sector was unable to meet the objectives of the wheat production plan due to the damage caused by cyclones last year,” Asia News reported, citing the Korean Central News Agency.
The reason for this is storm damage to the country’s agricultural sector, and the inability of North Korea to replace the lost crops with imports, due to closed borders.
This has led to rising food prices, including sugar, soybean oil and flour.
“Saying that in particular, the people's food situation is now getting tense as the agricultural sector failed to fulfill its grain production plan due to the damage by typhoon last year, he stressed that the plenary meeting should take a positive measure for settling the problem,” the KCNA quoted Kim as saying, per Yonhap News Agency.
A separate report from Daily NK found that food shortages are growing in South Pyongan Province, due in part to the long closure of North Korea’s border with China.
According to that report, many merchants in that area borrow money to buy imported goods from China and then pay back those creditors. But with the border closed, some in that position have been unable to pay the money back- and that situation led to such a merchant being shot and killed by a smuggler.
Daily NK, meanwhile, reported that the North Korean regime has encouraged cell phone users in North Korea to download a new cooking app. However, the report said that most people who have downloaded the app are “disappointed.”
“People in Samjiyon and Pochon County began installing the app as [cooking] is a necessary part of life,” the site’s source said. “However, locals who gathered together to cook using the app have been less than happy with it.”
Meanwhile, international reports earlier this month looked at photographic evidence that Kim Jong-un has recently lost a significant amount of weight. North Korean observers have speculated that it might strengthen Kim’s position if he is seen as healthier, although others cautioned that the opposite could be true if the weight loss is due to some type of illness.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for the National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.