News


      DATE=08/11/97

      TYPE=U-S OPINION ROUNDUP

    NUMBER=6-10292

     TITLE=KOREA'S NEWS:FAMINE WORSENS BUT PEACE TALKS BEGIN

    BYLINE=ANDREW N. GUTHRIE

 TELEPHONE=619-3335

  DATELINE=WASHINGTON

    EDITOR=ASSIGNMENTS



CONTENT=







[EDITORS: FOR SERVICES DESIRING ADDITIONAL MATERIAL, PLEASE SEE 

   THE ORLANDO SENTINEL EDITORIAL IN TODAY'S EDITORIAL DIGEST 

                    6-10291 WHICH HAS MOVED]



INTRO:   THERE WAS SOME MILD GOOD NEWS FROM THE TROUBLED KOREAN 

         PENINSULA LAST WEEK, IN THAT PRELIMINARY, FOUR-PARTY 

         PEACE TALKS GOT UNDER WAY IN NEW YORK INVOLVING THE TWO 

         KOREAS, CHINA AND THE U-S.



         AT LEAST PART OF THE IMPETUS FOR NORTH KOREA AGREEING TO

         THE NEGOTIATIONS, WHICH OBSERVERS HOPE MAY SOMEDAY LEAD 

         TO FORMAL PEACE TALKS, WAS THE CONTINUING DETERIORATION 

         IN THE NORTH KOREAN FOOD SUPPLY.



         U-S EDITORIAL WRITERS WERE QUICK TO SEIZE ON THE EVENT 

         AS A HOPEFUL SIGN IN AN OTHERWISE BLIGHTED PICTURE.  WE 

         GET A SAMPLING NOW FROM ___________________ IN TODAY'S 

         U-S OPINION ROUNDUP. 



TEXT:    THE TALKS BEGAN LAST WEEK AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY IN NEW 

         YORK CITY, FULLY 44 YEARS AFTER THE SIGNING OF THE 1953 

         ARMISTICE AGREEMENT, WHICH MERELY STOPPED THE FIGHTING, 

         BUT DID NOT FORMALLY END THE KOREAN WAR.



         MOST EDITORIAL WRITERS CREDIT THE FAMINE CONDITIONS IN 

         MUCH OF THE NORTH WITH FORCING THE PYONGYANG GOVERNMENT 

         TO THE BARGAINING TABLE, NO MATTER HOW RELUCTANTLY.  

         HOWEVER THEY ALSO POINT OUT THAT INCREASING FAMINE AID 

         TO THE NORTH IS A VERY DIFFICULT QUESTION, SINCE THE 

         GOVERNMENT CONTINUES TO REMAIN ONE OF THE MOST 

         BELLIGERENT IN THE WORLD.



         AS THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE PUTS IT, THE ISSUE BOILS DOWN TO 

         THIS: "FEED PEOPLE OR STARVE TYRANTS?" THAT IS THE 

         QUESTION.   WE BEGIN OUR SAMPLING IN COLORADO, WHERE 

         HOLGER JENSEN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS EDITOR OF 

         THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS IN DENVER HAS THESE THOUGHTS.



VOICE:   "FAMINE HAS BROUGHT NORTH KOREA TO THE NEGOTIATING 

         TABLE, BUT FOUR-PARTY TALKS NOW UNDER WAY ... HAVE FAR 

         TO GO BEFORE THEY CAN PRODUCE A LASTING PEACE ON THE 

         KOREAN PENINSULA.  IN THIS INITIAL PHASE, THE UNITED 

         STATES, CHINA AND THE TWO KOREAS ARE LIMITING THEMSELVES

         TO PROCEDURAL MATTERS  - -  SETTING A DATE, TIME AND 

         PLACE FOR MORE SUBSTANTIVE NEGOTIATIONS SET TO BEGIN NEW

         MONTH.  THEY HAVEN'T EVEN AGREED ON AN AGENDA YET. .....

         EVEN SO, U-S OFFICIALS REGARD THE FACT THAT NORTH KOREA 

         IS EVEN TALKING TO SOUTH KOREA AS A BREAKTHROUGH.  [OPT]

         ..... THAT NORTH KOREANS ARE SUFFERING THERE IS NO 

         DOUBT.  TWO YEARS OF FLOODING AND NOW A DISASTROUS 

         DROUGHT HAVE MADE THE COUNTRY TOTALLY DEPENDENT ON 

         DONATED GRAIN.  ESTIMATED BY U-N RELIEF AGENCIES SAY 

         THAT NORTH KOREA NEEDS 800-THOUSAND TONS OF RICE AND 

         CORN TO AVERT MASS STARVATION.  [END OPT] ..... CHILDREN

         ARE STARVING TO DEATH IN KINDERGARTENS AND HOSPITALS - -

         NORTH KOREAN OFFICIALS EXPECT 60-THOUSAND TO DIE THIS 

         YEAR  - -  AND MALNOURISHED ADULTS ARE BECOMING TOO WEAK

         TO WORK.  FOR A STALINIST REGIME THAT HAS MADE 'JUCHE' 

         (EXTREME SELF-RELIANCE) ITS GUIDING PHILOSOPHY, BEGGING 

         FOR FOOD IS AN EXTREME HUMILIATION.  BUT PYONGYANG HAS 

         BEEN FORCED TO ADMIT THAT ITS 'TEMPORARY FOOD SHORTAGE 

         HAS REACHED A SERIOUS STAGE,' EVEN THOUGH NORTH KOREA'S 

         HOSTILITY TO THE REST OF THE WORLD HAS LEFT FEW NATIONS 

         FEELING GENEROUS."



TEXT:    TURNING TO THE MIDWEST, THE ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH 

         WORRIES ABOUT THE SITUATION, BUT ALSO ABOUT HOW 

         DIFFICULT IT IS TO HELP A COUNTRY AS XENOPHOBIC AND 

         UNCOOPERATIVE AS NORTH KOREA.  



VOICE:   "NORTH KOREA, THE BAD BOY OF EAST ASIA, IS FACING A 

         FAMINE OF FEARSOME DIMENSIONS, PERHAPS MORE TERRIBLE 

         THAN THOSE OF ETHIOPIA AND SOMALIA IN THE LAST DECADE.  

         AGRICULTURE HAS COLLAPSED THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY.  NO 

         RAIN HAS FALLEN IN NORTH KOREA FOR 60 DAYS, DEVASTATING 

         CROPS ALREADY INEFFICIENTLY CULTIVATED.  CROP ROTATION 

         IS UNKNOWN, AND SYSTEMATIC IRRIGATION HAS NEVER BEEN 

         DEVELOPED.  THE COUNTRY'S 24 MILLION PEOPLE NEED MASSIVE

         FOOD AID NOW.  SOME FIVE MILLION OF THEM ARE SAID TO BE 

         CLOSE TO STARVATION.  BUT PROVIDING AID WILL NOT BE 

         EASY.  THE REGIME IS NOTORIOUSLY SECRETIVE AND RELUCTANT

         TO ADMIT TO THE WORLD THE EXTENT OF ITS CRISIS.  IT HAS 

         BEEN UNWILLING EVEN TO PERMIT RELIEF OFFICIALS TO MOVE 

         FREELY ABOUT THE COUNTRY TO ASCERTAIN THE MAGNITUDE OF 

         THE DISASTER.  ....... THE POSSIBILITY THAT MASS 

         STARVATION AND GENERAL ECONOMIC COLLAPSE WILL CAUSE THE 

         REGIME TO DISSOLVE, LEAVING SOUTH KOREA TO RESCUE THE 

         NORTH'S POPULATION, OR MERELY SEND MILLIONS OF NORTH 

         KOREANS FLEEING TO THE SOUTH TO FIND SOMETHING TO EAT, 

         IS SOMETHING SOUTH KOREA AND THE UNITED STATES WOULD 

         DEARLY LIKE TO AVOID."



TEXT:    HERE IN THE NATION'S CAPITOL, THE WASHINGTON TIMES HAS 

         FEARS SIMILAR TO THOSE OF THE POST-DISPATCH, OF A TOTAL 

         COLLAPSE OF THE NORTH KOREAN GOVERNMENT AND OF REFUGEES 

         OVERRUNNING THE SOUTH.



VOICE:   "CONDITIONS IN NORTH KOREA MUST BE BLEAK INDEED.  THEY 

         ARE SO BLEAK THAT THE NORTH KOREAN GOVERNMENT THIS WEEK 

         TOOK THE FIRST RELUCTANT STEPS, UNDER HEAVY PRESSURE, TO

         SIT DOWN FOR TALKS WITH THEIR FELLOW KOREANS IN THE 

         SOUTH, AS WELL AS WITH REPRESENTATIVES FROM CHINA AND 

         THE UNITED STATES, TO PUT AN OFFICIAL END TO THE KOREAN 

         WAR.   .... IT'S SURELY ABOUT TIME.  STILL, THE FACT 

         REMAINS THAT THE WORLD'S MOST HEAVILY FORTIFIED BORDER, 

         THE DEMILITARIZED ZONE BETWEEN NORTH AND SOUTH KOREA, IS

         THE MOST LIKELY FLASHPOINT FOR THE NEXT INTERNATIONAL 

         CRISIS.  [OPT] .....ACCORDING TO THE FAR EASTERN 

         ECONOMIC REVIEW, FOR SEVEN YEARS STRAIGHT THE NORTH 

         KOREAN ECONOMY HAS BEEN SHRINKING, LAST YEAR BY FOUR 

         PERCENT, AND THE COUNTRY HAS PRODUCED LESS THAN HALF OF 

         THE FOOD IT WOULD TAKE TO FEED ITSELF EVERY YEAR SINCE 

         1991.  EVEN SO, THE NORTH KOREANS HAVE REPORTEDLY BEEN 

         SELLING MAIZE TO JAPANESE CHICKEN FARMERS, POSSIBLY FOOD

         AID FROM INTERNATIONAL RELIEF AGENCIES.  PYONGYANG 

         SOMEHOW ALSO SOMEHOW FOUND THE MONEY TO SEND 500 

         STUDENTS TO THE 14TH WORLD YOUTH FESTIVAL IN CUBA IN 

         JULY. [END OPT]  THE PROSPECT OF STARVING NORTH KOREANS 

         STREAMING INTO CHINA OR THE RUSSIAN FAR EAST REMAIN A 

         CONSTANT WORRY TO THOSE COUNTRIES.  ..... WHAT SEEMS 

         CERTAIN THOUGH AT THIS POINT: THE BIGGER THE POLITICAL 

         OPENING NOW IN NORTH KOREA CREATED BY THE NEED FOR 

         FOREIGN AID TO DEAL WITH THE CURRENT FOOD SHORTAGES, THE

         BETTER WE SHALL BE ABLE TO DEAL WITH THE REGIME'S 

         COLLAPSE WHENEVER IT COMES."



TEXT:    TURNING AGAIN TO THE MIDWEST, THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE, IN 

         THAT EDITORIAL MENTIONED EARLIER, HAS THIS ASSESSMENT OF

         THE SITUATION.



VOICE:   "THE REGIME MAY BE SLOWLY EDGING TOWARD COLLAPSE, BUT IT

         IS DOING EVERYTHING WITHIN ITS POWER TO DELAY THE FINAL 

         RECKONING AS LONG AS POSSIBLE.  FIRST AND FOREMOST, THAT

         MEANS KEEPING THE COUNTRY'S ARMED FORCES WELL-FED, 

         CONTENTED AND UNDER CONTROL.  ORDINARY FOLKS MAY HAVE TO

         GET BY ON STRICTLY ENFORCED RATIONS OF JUST A FEW 

         HUNDRED CALORIES PER DAY, MUCH OF IT FROM GRASSES, 

         LEAVES AND TREE BARK, BUT THE MEN AND WOMEN IN UNIFORM 

         ARE FAR BETTER PROVISIONED.  IN FACT, THE LION'S SHARE 

         [LARGEST PART] OF WHAT FOOD IS PRODUCED IN NORTH KOREA 

         GOES TO SOME TWO MILLION GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS AND 

         SOLDIERS  - -  ONLY ONE-TWELFTH OF THE POPULATION.  EVEN

         WORSE, SOME DEFECTORS SAY THAT MUCH OF THE FOOD DONATED 

         TO NORTH KOREA BY INTERNATIONAL RELIEF AGENCIES IS ALSO 

         BEING CONSUMED ON MILITARY BASES.  [OPT] THAT'S WHY 

         THERE IS SUCH DEEP SKEPTICISM AND SOULSEARCHING OVER 

         URGENT CALLS TO SPEED UP FOOD DELIVERIES TO NORTH KOREA 

         BEFORE A FULL-SCALE FAMINE TAKES HOLD.  [END OPT] ..... 

         IF FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS AND RELIEF AGENCIES BELIEVE THERE

         ARE GOOD REASONS, BOTH HUMANE AND POLITICAL, FOR FURTHER

         FOOD DELIVERIES TO NORTH KOREA, THEN AT THE VERY LEAST 

         THEY SHOULD DEMAND IRONCLAD PROCEDURES TO GUARANTEE THAT

         THEY GET TO NEEDY PEOPLE.  A SOFT HEART MAY BE A VIRTUE,

         BUT A SOFT HEAD MOST SURELY IS NOT."



TEXT:    ON THAT NOTE, WE CONCLUDE THIS BRIEF SAMPLING OF OPINION

         FROM THE U-S PRESS ON THE CURRENT SITUATION IN NORTH 

         KOREA, AND THE OPENING OF FOUR-PARTY TALKS IN NEW YORK 

         CITY LAST WEEK.



NEB/ANG/EH







   



11-Aug-97 1:10 PM EDT (1710 UTC)

NNNN



Source: Voice of America

.