‘We Will Have to Chew Roots’: North Korea Warns Its Citizens to Prepare for Famine

The last time the North Korean government acknowledged a state of famine, an estimated 3.5 million people died
North Korea Warns Its Citizens to Prepare for Famine

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‘We may have to go on an arduous march, during which we will have to chew the roots of plants once again,’ a state-run paper informed North Korean citizens. 

Rodong Sinmun, the state-run newspaper of the North Korean dictatorship, has published an editorial warning North Korean citizens to prepare for an impending famine, the nation’s price to pay for a “long and arduous” revolution.

“We may have to go on an arduous march, during which we will have to chew the roots of plants once again,” the paper warned grimly, evoking the language used during an earlier famine in North Korean history.

In what became known as the “arduous march,” up to 3.5 million people died from hunger or related illnesses between 1994 and 1998, when the loss of outside support, as well as the severe mismanagement of resources by the North Korean government, crippled the country’s food supply.

According to the South Korean paper Chosun Ilbo, the upcoming “road to revolution” will require every citizen in the nation’s capital of Pyongyang to donate 2.2 pounds of rice to the state supply every month. As with the 1994 famine, North Korean farmers will also be required to donate additional supplies to the military, the welfare of which has historically been the country’s highest priority.

Kim Jong Un’s regime has also begun to crack down on open-air markets, where citizens have been able to purchase supplies with relatively little interference from the state, until now. Already this year, North Korea has requested nearly half a million tons of food relief from other countries to help feed its people, though only 17,600 tons have since been delivered, according to the Telegraph. One factor that may explain the reluctance from outside nations may be that the government has refused to cease its testing of nuclear weapons, leading to UN sanctions.

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Rodong Sinmun also called for citizens to engage in a “70-day campaign of loyalty” to prove their commitment to the leadership of Kim Jong Un in trying times.