Increased imports of tobacco and fruits,
is North Korea really having food difficulties?
2019/05/18 / Chosun Ilbo Japanese Edition

It continues to be reported

that it is doubtful whether North Korea's food shortage is really serious .

According to statistics from the International Trade Center (ITC),

food such as flour imported from China

by China in the first quarter of this year was less than tobacco and fruits .

The import value of wheat flour was $ 1.44 million

(about 1.81 billion yen at the current rate, the same applies below),

but $ 17.65 million (about 1.94 billion yen)

for tobacco, $ 26 million for fruits and nuts ( It was about 2.86 billion yen).


Cereals such as rice were only $ 1.8 million.

Moreover, the import of wheat flour dropped by nearly 40%

from the first quarter last year.

On the other hand, imports of luxury goods such as tobacco

and fruits increased year by year.

If there is a real hunger,

is it possible to spend money on tobacco and fruits rather than food?

In addition,

the price of rice has dropped

in the North Korean market recently compared with the end of last year .


Overseas North Korean experts have also made preliminary decisions

about food shortages.

Former adviser of the World Bank

"There is no sign of food shortage ,

considering North Korea's trade statistics and market prices.

The current food shortage relates to spring crops due to sunlight



It is unusual that North Korea,

which has been requesting food assistance as in the past,

emphasizes North Korean sanctions as the cause of the food shortage .

One person who once worked as a North Korean human rights envoy

in the US Department of State was

"It may be that North Korea wants people's distress to be embossed

(outside the world) in order to bring down sanctions relief. "


It would be exaggerating the food issue if it were to shake sanctions.


Currently, the only reason the Korean administration is based on food

aid is the fact that the World Food Program ( WFP ) announced

the "1.36 million tonnes shortage" estimate .

However, it is doubtful how far WFP has confirmed the truth

about the circumstances of North Korea.

It may have looked only at what North Korea showed .

The grain production of North Korea this year, estimated

by such WFP, is 4.9 million tons.

North Korea produced 3.5 million tons during the “March of hardship”.

The New York Times

"There is no report that the problem of mass hunger has occurred

in North Korea," he said.


The Korean government does not listen to such news .

There is only an idea to open a north-south event

with the support of North Korea .

The president of Korea ’s presidential office (blue-collar table)

security director

" The principle of food assistance

to North Korea has already been decided."

He made it clear.


Open to the standing committee of the National Security Council (NSC),

" Consider concrete plans,

such as support through international organizations or direct support"


Apart from food aid, it will contribute $ 8 million

( approximately 800 million yen ) to humanitarian aid.

What kind of signal would it be

for North Korea if it supplies food while firing missiles one after another?

All things have 'timing'.


At this point in time,

it is necessary to accurately grasp North Korea's food situation

and to examine in detail the impact

of food assistance on the North Korean sanctions situation.


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