News

 

DATE=3/2/98
TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
NUMBER=2-227449
TITLE=NORTH KOREA/ GRAIN SHORTAGE (L-ONLY)
BYLINE=KATE WILTROUT
DATELINE=SEOUL
CONTENT=
VOICED AT:  

INTRO:  IN AN UNUSUALLY FRANK ASSESSMENT, NORTH KOREA SAYS ITS 
GRAIN STOCKS ARE ALMOST DEPLETED AND WILL RUN OUT THIS MONTH.   
AS KATE WILTROUT REPORTS FROM SEOUL,  FEW DOUBT THAT THE 
SITUATION IN THE NORTH IS SEVERE,  BUT SOUTH KOREAN OFFICIALS 
COULD NOT CONFIRM THE REPORT.

TEXT:  THE K-C-N-A, NORTH KOREA'S OFFICIAL NEWS AGENCY, SAID 
MONDAY THAT NORTH KOREA COULD RUN OUT OF GRAIN IN THE NEXT TWO 
WEEKS. THE REPORT QUOTED A SPOKESMAN FOR THE COUNTRY'S FLOOD 
DAMAGE REHABILITATION COMMITTEE AS SAYING THAT GRAIN RATIONS WERE
CUT IN JANUARY AND FEBRUARY, BUT THE REDUCTION HAS NOT STOPPED 
THE DRAIN ON SUPPLIES.

THE SPOKESMAN SAID YEARS OF NATURAL DISASTERS HAVE MADE A SERIOUS
DENT IN THE NORTH KOREAN ECONOMY, GIVING RISE TO WHAT HE CALLED 
"GRAVE AFTER-EFFECTS."

CHOI JINWOOK, A RESEARCHER AT THE SOUTH KOREAN INSTITUTE FOR 
NATIONAL REUNIFICATION, SAYS THE REPORT IS UNUSUAL BECAUSE NORTH 
KOREA TYPICALLY DOES NOT ADMIT THE SEVERITY OF PROBLEMS IT IS 
FACING. 

NORTH KOREA HAS BEEN HIT BY TWO YEARS OF FLOODS AND DROUGHTS THAT
HAVE PARALYZED THE COUNTRY AND  LED TO THE NEED FOR LARGE-SCALE 
EMERGENCY FOOD AID FROM OVERSEAS.  AID OFFICIALS SAY THAT SPRING 
IS ALWAYS A DIFFICULT TIME, BECAUSE STOCKS OF GRAIN AND RICE 
HARVESTED IN THE AUTUMN RUN OUT. 

DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE NORTH AND SOUTH KOREAN RED CROSS HAS BEEN 
DEADLOCKED SINCE DECEMBER, AND A SOUTH KOREA RED CROSS OFFICIAL 
SAYS THAT ALTHOUGH THE SITUATION IN THE NORTH IS SERIOUS, THE 
ORGANIZATION CANNOT CONFIRM THE REPORT.

KIM YOUNG-MIN, A SPOKESMAN FOR THE SOUTH KOREAN MINISTRY OF 
NATIONAL REUNIFICATION, SAYS THE MINISTRY IS ANALYZING THE FOOD 
SITUATION IN NORTH KOREA, BUT IT ALSO CANNOT CONFIRM THE ACCURACY
OF THE K-C-N-A REPORT.  ANOTHER GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL EXPRESSED 
SKEPTICISM, SAYING THAT A NORTH KOREAN DIPLOMAT WHO DEFECTED LAST
MONTH CLAIMED THE GOVERNMENT TRIES TO EXAGGERATE THE SITUATION TO
WIN MORE FOOD AID.

SOUTH KOREA'S NEW PRESIDENT, KIM DAE-JUNG, SAID IN HIS INAUGURAL 
ADDRESS LAST WEEK THAT THE SOUTH WOULD CONTINUE TO SEND FOOD 
ASSISTANCE TO NORTH KOREA.  BUT A SPECIFIC AMOUNT HAS NOT  YET 
BEEN PLEDGED  FOR THIS YEAR.  SOUTH KOREA SENT 46 MILLION DOLLARS
WORTH OF FOOD TO NORTH KOREA THROUGH THE RED CROSS AND OTHER 
INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS LAST YEAR.  (SIGNED)

NEB/KW/GC/FC

02-Mar-98 6:44 AM EST (1144 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America
.