Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Nuclear North Korea Entreats Mongolia for Help in Feeding Its People

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Nuclear North Korea Entreats Mongolia for Help in Feeding Its People

Article excerpt

Koreans and nearby Mongolians share an ancient ethnic and lingual heritage, and now it appears North Korea is hoping those ties will help them borrow a bit of needed butter and sugar.

The ambassador from Pyongyang to Ulan Bator officially has claimed that a "severe food shortage" may be in the offing, and his country is seeking relief.

North Korea's young leader Kim Jong-un has been threatening nuclear war, raising tensions, using scant fuel resources to drive his mobile rocket launchers around in anticipation of another test; last week Mr. Kim shut a joint North-South industrial park at Kaesong that earns hard currency.

But when it comes to actually feeding people at a time of expected shortfall in the corn crop, Kim is apparently hoping that Mongolians will take pity.

Koreans and Mongolians trace their linguistic heritage to the Altaic family of languages - of which China is not a part - and there is a robust back and forth of tourists and trade between Seoul and Ulan Bator on East Asian Airlines, with Koreans often fascinated by their roots among the plains peoples.

The Wall Street Journal today reported that:

"North Korea may face (a) severe food shortage," [North Korean] Ambassador Hong Gyu told [Mongolian] President [Tsakhiagiin] Elbegdorj, according to the account. Mr. Hong then asked for Mongolia to consider the possibility of delivering food aid to North Korea, the Journal reported.

For years, photos of malnourished children and adults with stunted growth have been synonymous with reported conditions inside the secretive kingdom of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or DPRK, which has been run by the Kim family dynasty for more than 60 years.

The central daily preoccupation of Shin Dong-hyuk, born in a labor camp, and who is the subject of Blaine Harden's recent book, "Escape from Camp 14" - is food. …

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