North Korea: The Foundations for Military Strength -- Update 1995
December 1995

Worsening Food Situation

A deteriorating food situation in the spring of 1995 forced Pyongyang to publicly request rice aid, loans, or sales from the United States, Japan, South Korea, and other countries. Widespread reports of malnutrition, increased absenteeism, and reduced production preceded the requests. The North's public food appeals underscore Pyongyang's recognition of a severe food shortage. Even with rice commitments from Seoul and Tokyo, it must seek additional grain to meet about a third of 1995's total demand. It will probably seek additional grain to meet its needs during the 1996 crop year. A shortage of cash, credit, and agricultural supplies and the relatively small percentage of arable land (16.6 percent in 1990), along with unpredicatable weather, will likely lead to continuing poor harvests. Without external assistance, including food aid given for free or on very favorable terms, North Korea will continue to face severe shortages.