Academic journal article North Korean Review

Famine in North Korea: Markets, Aids, and Reform

Academic journal article North Korean Review

Famine in North Korea: Markets, Aids, and Reform

Article excerpt

Famine in North Korea: Markets, Aids, and Reform By Stephan Haggard and Marcus Noland: Columbia University Press, 2007, 307 pp, (cloth), ISBN: 978-0-231-1400-3.

In the late 1980s, the North Korean economy spiraled downward as the country's chief allies-the Soviet Union and China-discontinued new loans and demanded repayment of outstanding loans. By the end of the 1980s, North Korea's economic growth rate had slowed to a minimal level. Shortly thereafter, a series of crises engulfed Pyongyang. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the political upheavals in Eastern Europe had a serious impact on the North Korean economy. Consecutive floods in 1995 and 1996 and a record drought in 1997 caused a massive loss of crops and cultivated land, further decimating the already anemic North Korean economy. No one knows for sure how many North Koreans died from the food shortages in the 1990s because North Korea as a police state restricts or prohibits access to reporters and relief workers. However, international aid organizations estimate that the number of premature deaths from food shortages and related diseases ranged from 200,000 to 3,500,000 in the 1990s. There are indications of numerous small attempts by North Korea to liberalize its ailing economy; however, to date, these measures have been peripheral and completely inadequate to pull the economy out of the nosedive.

In their carefully researched book, Haggard and Noland present the most comprehensive and penetrating account of the great North Korean famine to date, examining not only the origins and aftermath of the crisis but also North Korean response to outside aid and the effect of its current policies on the country's economic future. …

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