famine in north korea

ROSSERJB at jmu.edu ROSSERJB at jmu.edu
Mon Jun 10 10:46:17 MDT 1996

     Paul Cockshott's observations on the DPRK famine are
all well taken.  But a few more points need to be noted.
     1)  Part of the problem has been the DPRK policy of
juche, or "self-reliance."  Thus there has been a focus on
intensive self-sufficiency in agriculture.  In 1987, the
DPRK's peak year of ag production, it actually exceeded the
ROK in rice production, which more naturally grows in the South,
along with wheat and rye production, and potato production, despite
having a much smaller population than the ROK.  The ROK was ahead
in most meats.
     But the ROK has been able to import food because
it has been exporting manufactured goods.  The DPRK has not done
the latter, except for some military stuff.  In the early 1970s,
when the DPRK was caught between the Sino-Soviet conflict at its
height, it borrowed heavily from abroad and then totally defaulted.
This threw it back onto reliance upon the USSR and the PRC.
     2)  An important link arising from the cutoff of (former) Soviet
oil apparently has been a massive deforestation campaign to supply
energy.  This has been reported as contributing significantly to the
flooding which has triggered the famine.  Thus, the flooding has had
a systemically endogenous component, but one that had an exogenous
trigger from the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Barkley Rosser

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