The North Korean Famine - Why Did It Happen?

Uploaded by MSLawdotedu on 06.04.2011

why did north korea collapse so dramatically
and have this terrible famine
after the collapse of the soviet union what was the soviet union was it giving them below
market rate
energy or what what what was happening that stopped and caused this i think it's
something that none of the experts fully understand
uh... but as i understand it you had the collapse of the the energy regime in the
early nineties
after the soviets began charging world prices for oil
and other commodities that they sell to north korea
uh... this then affected their
uh... and agriculture
the industry didn't have fuel
but they also believe it or not north korea had one of the highest rates in the world
of putting chemical fertilizer on their fields
uh... i first went to north korea in nineteen eighty one
having been in the peace corps in south korea and lived there done a lot of research there
and one of the things that amazed me was that that
the rice fields didn't wreak
of of uh...
what we might call manure only it's human manure
in south korea they were still collecting
excrement and dumping it on the fields as fertilizer
and you haven't smelled anything until you've smelled a rice patty that's just had that
dumped on it
uh... during the war soldiers complained about it all the time
when i went to north korea in eighty-one stood in a rice patty and it didn't stink
and I said
you don't use you know
human manure
no no we have a very large chemical industry we've
been putting chemical fertilizer
uh... on the fields for a very long time
and it turned out when the
world agricultural association got into north korea in the eighties they validated that north korea
had a very high rate of
chemical fertilizers so when you take that away there goes the rice crop
uh... because the chemical factories weren't functioning
uh... their tractors
uh... that they and rice transplanting machines weren't function because of a lack of fuel
and then that cascaded through the economy
uh... so that an industrial city like chung jin is essentially looks like detroit
uh... not only uh... are the factories not working but they've been cannibalized by people in
search of anything to sell
uh... on the black markets that exist uh... and have existed since the famine so
their only hope is really to work with south korea and other
countries to rebuild their economic infrastructure and that's what's going on for example in
the kaesong
export zone thats employing about forty thousand north koreans that's all south korean
technology now
what would it be accurate to say that the south koreans to some extent
are deliberately trying to help north korea get back on its feet ah... economically
uh... they certainly were for ten years from nineteen ninety eight to two thousand and eight
uh... the nobel
peace prize winner kim dae
jung was president and then he
his hand-picked successor
was elected uh... for a five-year term
south korean presidents only get one five-year term
and during that ten-year period a great deal of uh... aid and uh...
equipment technology went to the north that's when this kaesong export zone
was set up
there were going to be more of them if uh... that particular party
in the south had held on to the presidency
uh... which they didn't uh... so since two thousand and eight with the opposition in a much
more conservative president
uh... there's not much rebuilding or
uh... i mean actually a lot of back peddling
regarding the north korean economy
but i will say that i thought south korea south korean firms were very smart
ten years ago and even before they were
slowly but surely taking pieces of the north korean economy
and rebuilding the infrastructure
putting in the latest technologies
uh... putting in whole factories
to rebuild north korea bit by bit rather than
try to absorb north korea north korea the way west germany absorbed
east germany which was extremely expensive and
and even today still difficult
so i thought that was a very wise strategy kim dae jung said
reconciliation will take another generation
before unification
and so you would have had if
there had been that continuity uh...
thirty years twenty five or thirty years of
piece-by-piece rebuilding the north korean economy