The North Korean Famine and Food Shortage: The Problem, the Politics, and the Policy

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The North Korean Famine and Food Shortage: The Problem, the Politics, and the Policy

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Title: The North Korean Famine and Food Shortage: The Problem, the Politics, and the Policy
Author: Lee, Donna
Citation: The North Korean Famine and Food Shortage: The Problem, the Politics, and the Policy (2006 Third Year Paper)
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Abstract: MODERN THEORIES OF FAMINE LARGELY CONCUR THAT FAMINE IS NOT THE SIMPLE CONSEQUENCE OF A LACK OF FOOD. TODAY, STUDIES CONFIRM THAT GLOBAL FOOD SUPPLIES ARE ADEQUATE TO CURE HUNGER AND PRESUMABLY, TO PROVIDE SUFFICIENT RELIEF IN CASES OF FAMINE. YET FAMINES PERSIST FOR LONG PERIODS AND ON LARGE SCALES. THE RECENT NORTH KOREAN FAMINE OF 1995-98 TOOK THE LIVES OF APPROXIMATELY ONE MILLION PEOPLE AND INFLICTED INCALCULABLE AMOUNTS OF SUFFERING ON ITS VICTIMS. EVEN IF VIEWED SOLELY IN TERMS OF ITS DEMOGRAPHIC IMPACT, THE FAMINE CAN BE EASILY CHARACTERIZED AS DISASTROUS. BUT A MORE COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION OF THE PHENOMENON REVEALS A FAR MORE DISTURBING POSSIBILITY: THE NORTH KOREAN GOVERNMENT, UNDER THE HARSH RULE OF KIM JONG IL, MADE EITHER SHORT-SIGHTED OR DELIBERATE POLICY CHOICES THAT CAUSED AND/OR PERPETUATED FAMINE CONDITIONS. THERE IS CONSIDERABLE EVIDENCE THAT A GOOD PORTION OF INTERNATIONAL FOOD AID FAILED TO REACH THE INTENDED BENEFICIARIES BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT IMPROPERLY DIVERTED RELIEF TO BLACK MARKETS OR TO POLITICALLY FAVORED SEGMENTS OF THE POPULATION. THESE ACTS OF SUBVERSION HAVE CAUSED SCHOLARS AND INTERNATIONAL AID ORGANIZATIONS TO RECONSIDER WHETHER CONTINUING SUCH AID IS APPROPRIATE. THIS PAPER UNDERTAKES THAT INQUIRY IN THE HOPES OF PROVIDING A REALISTIC AND PRAGMATIC ASSESSMENT OF THE NORTH KOREAN RELIEF EFFORTS.
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Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:8944674

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