[IWAR] N KOREA famine sitrep

From: Michael Wilson (MWILSON/0005514706at_private)
Date: Thu Dec 18 1997 - 09:21:08 PST

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                North Korean famine is 'heartbreaking,' aid group reports
          Copyright ) 1997 Nando.net
          Copyright ) 1997 Reuters
       WASHINGTON (December 18, 1997 01:18 a.m. EST http://www.nando.net) -
       North Korean refugees hiding in China have told horrific stories of
       surviving on plants and tree bark and, in rare cases, on human flesh, a
       South Korean aid organization said on Wednesday.
       Korean-Chinese associates of the Korean Buddhist Sharing Movement, a
       South Korean humanitarian organization, conducted 204 refugee interviews
       to get a picture of the food situation in North Korea, the movement
       The results show a "heartbreaking" picture of families forced to sell
       all their furniture to buy food or to wander the countryside looking for
       something to eat, said Pomnyun, a Buddhist monk who heads the South
       Korean aid group.
       "When I lost my daughter because of malnutrition, I lost my will to live
       and tried to commit suicide several times," a 28-year-old mother told
       interviewers, according to a translated text. "Then finally I decided to
       North Korea has reported sharp food shortages following massive floods
       in 1995 and 1996.
       "We collected plants, herbs and tree bark and boiled it with a spoonful
       of corn powder," one 67-year-old male told interviewers.
       "Finally, we had our children find their own meals on the street. One is
       dead from starvation, and the other two were murdered and eaten by a
       neighbor," he said.
       Two of the North Korean refugees admitted eating "dead bodies" to
       survive, said Young Chun, senior policy adviser of the Korean American
       Sharing Movement.
       The accounts of cannibalism could not be independently confirmed. Such
       reports have surfaced occasionally during North Korea's food crisis, but
       none have been independently confirmed.
       Chun, a sociologist and survey research methodologist, cautioned against
       generalizing from the results of the survey. But he added it did provide
       eyewitness accounts of the effects of the famine from a large number of
       The 204 refugees gave information on 1,009 family members, including
       themselves. Of that total, they reported that 245 family members, or 24
       percent, had died in the last two years.
       The refugees said starvation was the cause of death in 63 percent of the
       cases. Diseases such as tuberculosis and paratyphus have also taken a
       substantial toll, they said.
       Starvation accounted for 90 percent of the deaths among children up to
       age 9, the largest percentage for any group.
       At least 43 percent of the reported deaths were among family members
       aged 50 or older. That could reflect the giving of food to their
       children by elderly North Koreans, Chun said.
       Altogether, 69 percent of the refugees said they had lost one or more
       parents in the last two years, and 25 percent said they had lost one or
       more children.

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