Korea: April 17, 2001

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North Korea had another brutal winter, made worse by increasing food and energy shortages. It's becoming increasingly obvious to foreign aid workers that, contrary to what aid workers believed in the past, the problem is not one of supply, but distribution. Locals have increasingly risked the fatal attention of State Security by telling foreigners how the food and energy is diverted to military use or reserve stocks. The same information comes from people living on the Chinese border with Korea, and those few civilians who travel to North Korea. There is also a constant trickle of North Koreans who escape (usually across the Yalu river to China.) The food and energy policy is apparently an effort by the ruling class (a few percent of the population) to insure that their primary weapon, the military and security forces, remains well taken care of and ready for action. The North Korean population is unlikely to rise up, as they are starved and terrorized. More likely is a split within the ruling class. But even this would be difficult because of the multiple security services (most of them exist to keep an eye on each other.)

 

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