Desperate N.Koreans 'Riot Over Food'

      March 04, 2010 09:09

      Violence is growing in North Korea amid a worsening food shortage after the disastrous currency revaluation last December, according to sources in the hermit country.

      One person was killed by armed guards on Feb. 16 when a group of people attempted to rob a food train at Komusan Railway Station in Puryong-gun, North Hamgyong Province, defector group North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity said. The attack came on North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's birthday after a disastrous currency reform sent food prices skyrocketing.

      The train was loaded with rice imported from China, the group said. Workers, outraged over the death, attacked armed guards with ploughs and police and military were called in.

      "North Koreans are angry that guards shot a worker dead for a few kilograms of rice but protesters are unlikely to get off lightly because the incident happened on Kim's birthday," the group said.

      A South Korean security official would not confirm the bloodshed but said there have been reports of violence in the North due to the serious food shortage.

      In a recent newsletter, South Korean activist group Good Friends said guards last month stole part of several tons of corn, which was piled Hoeryong Railyway Station in North Hamgyong Province, to be given to workers at Kim Chaek Iron & Steel Complex.

      The Daily NK, an online newspaper, reported the price of rice in the border city of Sinuiju, which was 400 won per kg late last month, more than doubled to 1,000 won. The official rice price fixed by the regime on Feb. 4 is 240 won per kg.

      A North Korean source said the regime is trying all it can to overcome the food crisis and all agencies involved in earning dollars have been told to import food.

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