North Korea is struggling to feed its army, according to new footage obtained from within the secretive state that shows a soldier complaining his unit is weak from a lack of nutrition.
The Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) said the video was taken by an undercover North Korean journalist over several months earlier this year and smuggled out of the country to China.
It shows orphaned children begging for food in the streets and a party official ordering a vendor at a private market to give her a donation of rice for the army — once quarantined from food shortages.
“Everybody is weak,” one young North Korean soldier is filmed saying to the reporter’s hidden camera. “Within my troop of 100 comrades, half of them are malnourished.”
ABC said the exclusive video also showed laborers building a private railway track near Pyongyang for North Korean ruler Kim Jong-il’s son and heir apparent, Kim Jong-un.
Japanese publisher Jiro Ishimaru, who instructed the undercover reporter on how to use the camera, told ABC the footage was important because it showed the weakening of Kim Jong-il’s regime.
North Korea has requested overseas food and relief groups have said that the state faces imminent shortages, saying people are again eating grass and tree bark.
The UN has pleaded with international donors to overlook political difficulties in the face of a humanitarian crisis, saying 6 million people are in danger of not getting enough to eat.