- HONG KONG (Kyodo) - Widespread famine in North Korea has caused
two million deaths, according to North Korean refugees in China, a Hong
Kong newspaper reported Wednesday.
- North Korean refugees in China told the
South China Morning Post that starvation continues and relief food from
aid agencies has not reached ordinary people but has remained in the hands
of politicians and the military.
- A middle-ranking official interviewed
in China by the English newspaper said that about two million people, nearly
10% of the population, have died in the famine gripping the country.
- The official confirmed the claims of
refugees that most people had received no grain through public distribution
for nearly two years, the newspaper reported.
- Another refugee, a 27-year-old engineering
student from Hamhung, was quoted as saying that the food is going to the
troops and that party cadres are hoarding up to a year's grain for themselves
and their families.
- The student said more than 10% of the
population of Hamhung has died, including his mother, and another 10% had
left the city to search for food.
- The official said that in Hyesan, a relatively
prosperous city of 200,000 people, no one had received full rations since
1994. She said in 1996, rations for only 13 days' worth of grain were distributed,
the newspaper reported.
- The situation worsened in 1997 when nothing
was received, while this year 6.6 kilograms of corn per person has been
distributed, she said.
- The official said her relatives in Pyongyang,
all party members, were eating only one meal a day.