Footage shot inside North Korea and obtained by the ABC has revealed the extent of chronic food shortages and malnutrition inside the secretive state.
Shot over several months by an undercover North Korean journalist, the harrowing footage shows images of filthy, homeless and orphaned children begging for food and soldiers demanding bribes.
The footage also shows North Koreans labouring on a private railway track for the dictator’s son and heir near the capital Pyongyang.
Strolling up to the site supervisor, the man with the hidden camera asks what is going on.
“This rail line is a present from Kim Jong-il to comrade Kim Jong-un,” he is told.
The well-fed Kim Jong-un could soon be ruling over a nation of starving, impoverished serfs.
The video shows young children caked in filth begging in markets, pleading for scraps from compatriots who have nothing to give.
“I am eight,” says one boy. “My father died and my mother left me. I sleep outdoors.”
Many of the children are orphans; their parents victims of starvation or the gulag.
But markets do exist – private markets that stock bags of rice, pork, and corn. The state no longer has any rations to hand out.
But the state wants its share of this embryonic capitalism.
In the footage, a party official is demanding a stallholder make a donation of rice to the army.
“My business is not good,” complains the stallholder.
“Shut up,” replies the official. “Don’t offer excuses.”
Recall that in the past, the World Health Organization praised and defended North Korea’s health care system. To the best of my knowledge, not once has the WHO apologized for the inaccuracy in its statement, and the way in which it sought to minimize and sweep under the rug the human rights abuses, deprivation, oppression, poverty, and starvation for which North Korea has come to be known throughout the world. That an international organization, relied on for its judgment on health care and health care policy throughout the world would behave this way should seriously worry observers.
I wonder if the WHO will have anything to say about this latest report concerning the truly terrible conditions in North Korea. Doubtful.