The collapse of North Korea's economy has caused food prices there to skyrocket and created new groups of people who can't afford to buy what they need to live, the UN World Food Program said yesterday. \nWhile the UN agency now has enough food for its distribution projects, many in North Korea are still hungry, said Richard Ragan, the WFP's country director based in Pyongyang. \n"What you've got is a chronic problem," he told reporters at a briefing in Beijing. North Korea is "chronically short of food." \nStarting next month, the World Food Program will have enough food to feed its target of 6.5 million people for the rest of the year and beyond, following new shipments from Japan, the US and Russia among other countries, he said. \nThat's a sharp shift from earlier this year, when the agency had to cut food aid to more than 4 million people because donations from abroad weren't coming in, he said. \nBut the agency is already working to line up foreign food aid for next year, he added. "We kind of live hand to mouth." \nFurther, a huge percentage of North Korea's 20 million people remain hungry, he said. \n"They don't produce enough food to feed everyone," he said. \nMeanwhile, the market price for food is shooting higher as the country experiments with capitalism following the collapse of its government-driven economy, he said. \nRice has surged to 700 won per kilogram compared to 130 won per kilogram last year, while the average wage has stayed steady at just 2,000 won a month, he said. \nNorth Korea's won trades at an official rate of about 130 won per US dollar and unofficially at about 1,600 won per US dollar, he said. \nSince the government's food rations aren't enough to live on, "people are being forced to go into the market sector," Ragan said. "As the economy shifts, there are winners and losers." \nAmong the winners, more people are now allowed to make money, whether it's by binding brooms or making straw mats or selling charcoal, he said. \nMany of the entrepreneurs are women who have presumably been laid off by money-losing government factories first, he added. "I've never seen a man in a commercial stall or kiosk." \nWhile farmers still have to meet grain quotas, they can also make money on the side, Ragan said. They can sell their surplus, or a wheat farmer might sell his chaff to a pig farmer as animal feed. \nThe fitful shift to a more market-based system has created new groups of vulnerable people, such as urban residents who have no access to land or other means of generating income, he said. \nChildren and the elderly are the most vulnerable of all, he added. Destitute parents still drop off their children at orphanages, often with the hopes of picking them up again after a few months, he said. "Orphanages are still a common coping mechanism for people who are suffering food shortages."
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Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
LIFELONG LOSS: Jiro Hamasumi, who was not quite born when an atomic bomb hit Hiroshima, lost his father and other relatives, but said he thinks about his father daily As Japan marks 75 years since the devastating attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the last generation of nuclear bomb survivors is working to ensure their message lives on after them. The “hibakusha” — literally “person affected by the bomb” — have for decades been a powerful voice calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. There are an estimated 136,700 left, many of whom were infants or soon to be born at the time of the attacks. The average age of a survivor now is a little over 83, according to the Japanese Ministry of Health, lending an urgency as they share their testimonies