More than 20,000 North Koreans in South Hwanghae Province have died of starvation since the regime’s former leader Kim Jong-il died in December, the Japanese daily Tokyo Shimbun reported.
The paper cited sources in the Stalinist country and said a bout of severe famine in the region is being blamed for the high death toll.
It added that the North's new leader Kim Jung-un has recently instructed his underlings to reallocate rice from military rations to the hunger-stricken residents.
The paper also pointed out that, while lavish celebrations were recently held to mark the centenary of North Korean founder Kim Il-sung's birth, a great number of people across the country are starving to death.
The acute famine was reportedly caused by heavy rains and flooding last year, which sharply reduced crop harvests in the aforementioned province.