Why is North Korea Always Hungry?

March 13, 2012 in Daily Bulletin

Brian Palmer took a look at why North Korea is perennially dealing with food shortages:

  • The country is cold and mountainous – less than ideal conditions for growing food.
  • In the 80s after the Soviet Union cut subsidies to North Korea, the North Korean government responded by using drastic measures in a desperate attempt to increase the amount of arable land. This included removing all natural vegetation from the hillsides to create farm land.
  • This strategy worked for a while but over time rains washed away the soil which, without any vegetation to keep it tied to the ground, quickly filled the rivers with silt, leaving North Korea with neither vegetation nor farmland.
  • Kim Jong-Il is believed to have had a radical plan to flatten the country by destroying the mountains, thus creating more arable land. He never had the resources to follow through with the idea.
  • State-directed farming is inefficient.

To read more about the role that the Soviet Union played in sustaining North Korea, some of Kim Jong-Il’s other ideas, and the simple solutions that would solve the food shortage, click here.

Source: Slate