[first published March 25, 2006] On the right, North Korea vs. South Korea at night. Also, consistent with this picture, read this from several years ago, which seems to apply today as well:
1. North Korea’s population requires about six million tons of food for each person to have a minimum diet. The regime controls all farming, all agriculture, and can only produce about four million tons. This causes a food shortfall of two million tons, or 33 percent below what is minimally required.
2. Kim has imposed rationing, and his handouts are the only way to legally obtain food. There are no independent channels of distribution, except for the black market. This means that people get food as Kim and his thugs’ desire.
3. Thus, Kim’s food distribution system is highly unequal. Food is put aside first for “patriotic rice” and “military rice.” This has resulted in Kim cutting the consumption of 700g of food a day per person by 22 percent, or to 400g a day, well below the minimum consumption of rice set by the World Food and Agricultural Organization.
4. This is not all. In this “classless” communist society, the regime has divided North Koreans into a rigid hierarchy of three classes, and fifty-one subdivisions, depending on a person’s status within the communist North Korean Workers Party and the military, their perceived faithfulness to communism, and family backgrounds. In other words, Kim uses the very food people need to live as a tool to reward and punish his subject slaves. Thus, vast numbers of people whose loyalties are questioned or may be deemed useless to the regime do not receive enough food to live long. The worst off are those people and families incarcerated in Kim’s concentration or forced labor camps. They receive the lowest food allowance of all, in spite of their being forced to work from 5 am to 8 pm.
5. There are no hospitals, doctors, or medical distribution and supply companies independent of the regime. All are nationalized. As with food, therefore, medical treatment and medicine is distributed as reward and punishment. Not surprisingly, medicine is in short supply and not available everywhere. Thus, the diseases associated with famine and malnutrition often get no medical treatment at all. Even a cold under such conditions can be mortal. And only half of the population is now inoculated for such diseases as infantile paralysis and measles.
6. Attempts on the part of the South Korea, the United Nations, and the United States, the major giver, to provide food aid have not worked well. In 2002 food aid was 62 percent under its target, but even if the target were reached , it would not substantially improve on the food available to the average Korean, because the food is not equally distributed. But it is not. The regime will not guarantee that food reaches those who need it most, it does not allow aid givers to carefully monitor who gets the food, and in some cases, it has redirected the food to its favorite classes or to the military.
7. Aside from the daily accumulation of dead, the effects on the living have been disastrous. Long-term malnutrition has affected about half the living, and caused underdevelopment in children–their growth is stunted and they are excessively thin. There is wide-scale dwarfishness and, most important from any humanitarian point of view, their brain development has been retarded. Moreover, malnutrition has fostered rickets, scurvy, nyctalopia, hepatitis, and tuberculosis, among other diseases. North Korea is one of the few countries in which population mortality rates have been increasing. The life expectancy has fallen to 66.8 years from 73.2; newborn mortality rate has increased from 14 to 22.5; and the rate for those less than five years of age has increased from 27 to 48 per thousand.
And so on.
Now, incredibly, that Stalinist dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong-Il–that warden of the world’s worst border to border, open air concentration camp; that overseer of mass starvation of his slaves while he loads his dinner table with delicacies procured by his chiefs from around the world; that mass murderer; that drug smuggler; that multimillion dollar counterfeiter of American currency; that material supporter of terrorism and supplier of nuclear technology and devices; that possessor of nuclear weapons and the missiles that could reach Hawaii and Alaska– is continuing to work on nuclear warheads for his missiles and on a longer range missile that could reach major American cities.
Were this evil man to appear to succeed with only reasonable credibility, the world would enter a new and most dangerous time. For then, Kim’s credibility about using his nukes would be absolute, and no American president could risk San Francisco or Chicago on the assumption that Kim did not have this capability, or was bluffing. And Kim would no longer be deterred from threatening Japan, South Korea, and the U.S. with his nukes unless we….
No threat that we would turn North Korea into a moonscape could be realistic, for it would be obvious to everyone that we would not risk the loss of several million American lives (along with economic, social and political chaos) that would follow Kim’s inevitable pre-emptive attack on the American homeland.
All political calculations are based on assumptions and a calculation of the risk of being wrong versus the probability of being right. Even if we had intelligence that cast doubt on Kim’s ability to create warheads from his nukes and to develop ICBMs with sufficient accuracy to hit an American city, the horrible human cost of being wrong would have to determine our policies
North Korea does not yet have an operational missile that could hit the continental US, a US report says. But its weapons could target South Korea and Japan, and it is working on a longer-range solid-fuel missile.
RJR: Ahh, bad headline. Hawaii and Alaska are part of the U.S.
North Korea suggested Tuesday it had the ability to launch a pre-emptive attack on the United States, according to the North’s official news agency. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said the North had built atomic weapons to counter the U.S. nuclear threat…. The North’s spokesman said it would be a “wise” step for the United States to cooperate on nuclear issues with North Korea in the same way it does with India.
RJR: Just wait until they APPEAR to have such a capability for the demands Kim will make.
North Korea says it wants to end UN food aid by the end of the year. The UN World Food Program (WFP) has provided 300,000 tons of food to North Korea this year, 90 percent of which has been delivered. South Korea has sent 500,000 tons. That keeps about a third of the population from starving to death (by providing about half a pound of grain or rice per day per person.) Harvests were better in the north this year, but the real reason for getting the WFP out is the hundred or so inspections UN personnel make each week to insure that the food goes to the people who need it. The South Korean food comes with far fewer inspections attached. China has also offered 150,000 tons of food a year, and South Korea has been generous with contributions of fertilizer. The north would rather starve than be scrutinized. These inspections bring too many North Koreans into contact with foreigners, and this leads to more North Koreans finding out about the outside world, and that North Korea is not the workers paradise, and best run country on the planet. North Korea has received some $2 billion in food aid over the last ten years. As a result, the government has not had to buy and import any food. Despite that savings, much of the food donated has been diverted to military use, or for sale in the black market.
LFNKR still receives stories about starvation like those heard back in 1996 to 1997. In one case, steamed bread was reportedly stuffed with human flesh. In another case, parents exchanged children with another family to eat them.
Two Australian fighter jets bombed and sank an impounded North Korean cargo ship on Thursday in what Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said was a strong message to Pyongyang about its involvement in drug running.
The U.S. government has failed to implement 2004 legislation aimed at promoting human rights in North Korea and giving asylum to refugees from that communist state, senior U.S. legislators said.
RJR: This is a balancing act on the part of Secretary Rice. We are trying to get international control of Kim’s nuclear weapons development, and need China and South Korea in the process, but both side with Kim in opposing our implementing the refugee act.
Six months after the Bush administration blacklisted a bank in Macao accused of laundering money for the North Korean government, senior administration officials said the action had proved to be far more effective than anyone had dreamed…. In interviews, several present and former administration officials said that the administration had concluded that the six-nation talks intended to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear arms were unlikely to succeed unless they were accompanied by these direct, punitive actions.
RJR: Finally, but it takes being mugged by reality to do it. This is the sorry history of middle-level State Department officials dealing with thug rulers. But it is an intrinsic problem for democratic officials, who habitually project their democratic norms onto the thugs that rule by the smoking gun.