North Korea in a Corner
Reuters is reporting North Korea is about to face its worst food shortage in years. Over 1.4 million tons of food are missing due to last year’s floods and the loss of 11% of the nation’s crops.
And yet, there has been no official annual request for food aid from the South. Normally, such requests are made around this time. This year, there is nothing but silence. The North heavily depends on fertilizer aid from the south. Lack of such fertilizer would certainly affect the economy.
North Korea watchers chalk this up to the “wait and see” approach Pyongyang is taking with regard to the Lee Myung Bak administration. North Korea still has not made any official comment on Lee’s landslide victory last December; not even daring to criticize Lee for planning to take a tougher line on human rights issues, or for calling for reciprocity in North-South relations
The North, it seems, is unwilling to loose face to the new administration by publicly asking for aid. Rest assured, that request will come in the near future. Reuters quotes an anonymous Unification Ministry official：
At the Unification Ministry, a government department charged with fostering harmony between the two halves of the Korean peninsula, an official said fertilizer was an urgent issue for the North and he expected a request would ultimately come through.
Speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, the official said North Korea likely would make the request through a non-governmental channel because it would lose face if a formal request to the new president was rejected.
While I’m tempted to proclaim that major changes are nigh, I won’t. Such proclamations were all too common in the past and not once have they come true.