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North Korea News: North Korean capital sees food ‘panic buying’ | World News


SEOUL: Consumers in the North Korean capital this week have been “panicking” for staples, causing some store shelves to empty, according to a news service that specializes in the country.

The purchases may be due to stricter coronavirus measures on the way to Pyongyang and do not appear to be related to this week’s reports that leader Kim Jong Un may be seriously ill, NK News reported, citing people living in Pyongyang and they were able to communicate outside the country. The shortage was initially limited to imported fruits and vegetables and then moved on to other goods, he said.

Radio Free Asia also reported last week that staple food prices in North Korea were rising sharply due to panic buying.

North Korea closed its borders in January when coronavirus cases in neighboring China began to skyrocket. The Kim regime has said it does not have confirmed virus infections, but the United States is “fairly certain” that it has cases due to a notable lack of military activity, said General Robert Abrams, commander of the United States Forces in Korea at a conference call conference in March. .

Food shortages are common in North Korea, which is one of the poorest states in the world. In the 1990s, a famine killed up to 10% of the population, according to some estimates.

The virus could make things worse. The United Nations World Food Program warned this week that the economic difficulties caused by the pandemic may lead to hunger in the developing world. WFP, which has operations in North Korea, said that about 40% of the population is malnourished, adding that “food insecurity and malnutrition are widespread.”

Kim was noticeably absent from the April 15 birthday celebrations of her grandfather and state founder Kim Il Sung. It has not been seen since a politburo meeting on April 11, prompting speculation about his condition.

The Korean central state news agency reported that Kim sent a message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday. Letters of this type are reported frequently.

US officials said Monday they were told that Kim was in critical condition after undergoing cardiovascular surgery last week and that they were unsure of her current health. Meanwhile, the office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Kim was carrying out “normal activities” in a rural area of ​​the country assisted by close aides and no special movements were detected.

The health of the North Korean leader is one of the best-kept secrets in the isolated state, known only to a few people in his inner circle. United States President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he does not know about Kim’s health, adding that he could approach to control him.

Original source