November 05, 2019 10:27
Nutrition in North Korea has improved this year despite heavy sanctions against the reclusive state because its relations with China improved, a study suggests.
The Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University interviewed 116 North Koreans who defected to South Korea last year and found that more than two-thirds ate rice instead of grain as their staple food.
In 2017, fewer than half of North Korean defectors said they regularly ate white rice in the North.
The North suffered decreased rice production due to drought, and international sanctions prevented the regime from importing food, leading to widespread malnutrition. Asked how much meat they consumed, around half in the new survey said once or twice a week, an increase from one-third a year earlier.
Kang Chae-yeon at the institute said, "Although sanctions remain, imports of food from China increased after three summits between the leaders of the two countries in 2018."
The worst poverty is found in Kangwon Province and Ryanggang Province, which are home to ambitious tourism development projects. The Wonsan and Kalma coastal tourist zone is being built in Kangwon Province, while Ryanggan Province is the site of the Samjiyon tourist zone.
The institute said the projects seem to be affecting their economies for the worse.
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