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North Korea State Documentary Admits ‘Food Crisis’

A recent North Korean state documentary discussed the nation’s “food crisis” in a reference to the poor situation of the citizens of North Korea.

The film is around two hours long and “is an annual production recapping the previous year’s biggest achievements and praising leader Kim Jong Un. It showed Kim visiting housing complex projects in Pyongyang, holding leadership meetings and attending military parades,” The Washington Post reported.

The film was called “The Great Year of Victory 2021” and was shown on Tuesday. It highlighted Kim’s job on the economy of the nation. However, it noted that “the country’s situation is more difficult than ever.”

The narrator of the documentary discussed a meeting where Kim talked about his worry that “what is urgently needed in stabilizing the people’s livelihood is to relieve the tension created by the food supply.” He called for emergency actions for the “food crisis,” stating that the country had started using its grain that had been for emergency use.

Kim was also reportedly looking thinner than he has in the past throughout the documentary as the film showed times when he weighed more, as well as images that portrayed his recent weight loss. Last summer, the world noticed as Kim looked thinner than usual after he hadn’t made public appearances for several weeks.

According to the Independent, the narrator of the film commented on Kim’s appearance, saying, “His body completely withered away, and he showed his motherly side by greatly suffering and worrying to realise the dreams of the people.”

Kim is also reportedly shown limping in the film.

As reported by NK News:

“[Kim Jong Un] showed us his fatherly side by doggedly braving snow, rain and wind while taking on the fate of the nation and people like his own children,” the documentary film’s narrator said, as the camera showed a first-person view of a makeshift set of stairs on a rainy construction site Kim visited in August.

NK News, along with NK Pro, are “independent, privately owned specialist information sources that focus on North Korea.”

Rachel Minyoung Lee, an expert on North Korea, told the Post, “I’m not so sure, if we were living in Kim Jong Il’s era, that it would’ve been addressed at all,” Lee said, referencing Kim’s father. “We [now] see more explicit formulations of the reality on the ground.”

North Korea drastically shut down its borders during the pandemic and “severely restricted trade with China, its biggest economic partner, which has exacerbated a shortage of food, supplies and cash, hurting the country’s most vulnerable, experts say,” per the Post.

Kim has also forced new policies that have put more restrictions on economic actions in the country, “including intensifying crackdowns on people moving between provinces and the illegal use of cellphones, both of which have severely limited people’s ability to trade food and goods,” per the outlet.

Reuters reported that North Korea has not confirmed that it has had any COVID-19 cases in the country.

The food crisis isn’t a new situation. In June, the Post reported that Kim described the food circumstance in the country as “tense,” as was reported by state media at the time.

“The people’s food situation is now getting tense as the agricultural sector failed to fulfil its grain production plan due to the damage by typhoon last year,” Kim said, per Reuters.

NK News reported that state media was not clear in the past about what was talked about at a small “consultative meeting” that took place in early June in Kim’s office.

The narrator of the recent film, however, reportedly said Kim put forward “important policy ideas in order to urgently stabilize the people’s lives and the tense food distribution situation and overcome the current food crisis with an emergency policy” during the gathering.

NK News added:

North Korea’s food crisis has been the subject of apparent censorship or debate among state propagandists, as it also didn’t come up in initial print media reports on a June party plenum and was only later mentioned in a KCTV documentary about the plenum.

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