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Details

North Korea Tells Citizens to Prepare for a Famine Worse than the 1990s

Citizens looking for new policies or a plan to open the border with China were put off by belt-tightening advice.

Tomás Ojea Quintana, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), briefs journalists on the situation in the country on October 23,2019- UN Photo

Authorities in North Korea are asking residents to prepare for economic difficulties as bad as the 1994-1998 famine which killed millions, RFA has learned, but experts say the situation is dire, but not that extreme.

The 1990’s famine was the result of economic mismanagement and the sudden collapse of North Korea’s patron the Soviet Union. As much as 10 percent of the North Korean population lost their lives, according to some estimates, while hundreds of thousands of people fled to China.

Sources in the country’s northwestern North Hamgyong province told RFA that authorities warned residents during special discussion sessions hosted by neighborhood watch units to prepare for a situation worse than the “Arduous March,” North Korea’s official depiction of the famine a quarter century ago.

The current economic situation in North Korea is dire by most accounts. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Jan. 2020, Beijing and Pyongyang closed the entirety of the 880-mile Sino-Korean border and suspended all trade.

North Korea was already pinched by U.S. and UN nuclear sanctions, but the border closure killed a major part of North Korean commerce: the purchase and sale of imported Chinese goods. Economic activity in entire towns came to a full stop, leaving people with no way to support themselves.

U.N Special Rapporteur on North Korean Human Rights Tomás Ojea Quintana warned in a report last month that the closure of the border and restrictions on the movement of people could bring on a “serious food crisis.”

“Deaths by starvation have been reported, as has an increase in the number of children and elderly people who have resorted to begging as families are unable to support them,” said the report.

Sources told RFA that attendees at this week’s special discussion sessions expected that the government would tell them to stay the course and be patient as the plans laid out during the congress went into effect.

“Today, each district held a discussion session for the women of each neighborhood watch unit about the Eighth Party Congress… but they were all shocked when the speaker said, ‘our economic difficulties are only beginning,’ a resident of North Hamgyong told RFA’s Korean Service April 5.

“Most of the attendees were women who are responsible for the livelihood of their families. The speaker was an official of the Propaganda and Agitation department, who emphasized that our current economic difficulties pale in comparison for what lies ahead. How would these women feel?” said the source, who requested anonymity to speak freely.

At the Eighth Congress of the ruling Korean Workers’ Party held in Jan. 2020, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pushed the country’s founding Juche ideology of self-reliance as the solution to economic troubles – indicating that there were no plans to open the border with China any time soon.

The source said a wave of anxiety spread among all the attendees when the speaker said that even the Arduous March was “nothing” compared to what lies ahead the country.

“Attendees began to panic, wondering how many would starve to death if the Arduous March, where millions of people died from hunger, was nothing,” the source said.

“The authorities have tried to push on us their propaganda that the lives of the people will be in ‘full bloom,’ referring to the full development of our style of socialism, but the residents are blaming the authorities, saying that the government has only prepared extreme hunger for us,” said the source.

Residents who lived through the 1990s famine were the most fearful of the news.

“They said we can’t just do nothing but starve to death if there is another Arduous March and vowed to come up with ways to stop it.”

Another source, also from North Hamgyong, confirmed the special discussion session to RFA on April 6.

“The speaker did not say a word about the improvement of the people’s lives like authorities had promised. Once again, they said we need to tighten our belts and carry out the decision of the Eighth Party Congress. This made the residents angry,” said the second source, who requested anonymity for security reasons.

“They told us in the session to memorize and follow the directives laid out in the congress unconditionally, and to discuss them in a question-and-answer format. But as the session continued, the attendees were unable to hide their disappointment and resentment,” said the second source.

Residents who lived through the 1990s famine were the most fearful of the news.

“They said we can’t just do nothing but starve to death if there is another Arduous March and vowed to come up with ways to stop it.”

Another source, also from North Hamgyong, confirmed the special discussion session to RFA on April 6.

“The speaker did not say a word about the improvement of the people’s lives like authorities had promised. Once again, they said we need to tighten our belts and carry out the decision of the Eighth Party Congress. This made the residents angry,” said the second source, who requested anonymity for security reasons.

“They told us in the session to memorize and follow the directives laid out in the congress unconditionally, and to discuss them in a question-and-answer format. But as the session continued, the attendees were unable to hide their disappointment and resentment,” said the second source.

The attendees were furious that they were being asked to be patient and to consent to sacrifices without specific details on how this would get them through the tough situation, according to the second source.

“So now the people are all saying that a second Arduous March is imminent. On the surface, the authorities are saying that everything will be fine once the five-year economic development plan laid out in the party congress is completed,” said the second source.

“But since they are not hiding the fact that the current economic crisis could lead to a situation more difficult than the Arduous March of the 1990s, the anxiety of the people is increasing,”

International observers were skeptical that the current situation in North Korea was anything at all like the famine of the 1990’s.

“This is not the famine of 1996-97. There is barely adequate food supply, but not what North Korea hoped it would be. And I don’t see North Korea to be in the midst of a demonstrable health crisis about COVID,” Mark P. Barry, associate editor of the International Journal on World Peace quarterly, told RFA.

“Although things are very difficult economically and not good for food security, the greatest danger for North Korea is progressive loss of sovereignty through dependence on one country – China. This is an opportunity in the tenth year of Kim Jong Un’s leadership to not only internally strengthen his power but to reduce dangerously rising dependency on China,” Barry said.

Barry said that Kim had hoped to achieve economic independence from China by striking a deal with the U.S.  

“Because [former U.S. President ]Trump left office without a deal Kim could accept and [U.S. President] Biden shows little promise to change long-held U.S. policy toward the DPRK regarding denuclearization, Kim is even willing to put his country through a possible second ‘Arduous March’ as a preferred alternative to succumbing to Chinese economic and political pressure,” said Barry.

Troy Stangarone of the Washington-based Korea Economic Institute (KEI) said the situation was indeed dire in North Korea, but added that it was unclear if it was comparable to the 1990s.

“In the last month or two, trade between North Korea and China, its primary trade partner, and even Russia has either fallen to zero or fallen to clevels so low that it is essentially nonexistent. We’ve seen indications that prices for goods are beginning to rise as food and other key items become scarcer,” Stangarone said.

“As long as North Korea continues to maintain these tight border controls, it’s very hard to see the situation improving and instead it’s most likely to continue to deteriorate,” he said.

Stangarone said Pyongyang would have a difficult time addressing the challenges ahead and recommended the government loosen border controls and more readily accept international aid.

The Arduous March was particularly devastating for North Korea’s children. At the end of the famine in 1998, a nutritional survey conducted by UNICEF and the World Food Program found that among children in 3,600 North Korean households, 62.3 percent were stunted, and 60.6 percent were considered moderately or severely underweight.

RFA reported in Nov. 2020 that a national literacy survey revealed that many of North Korea’s illiterate were of school age during the famine and could not attend school at the time. This led to fewer economic opportunities later in their lives.

Reported by Jieun Kim and Albert Hong for RFA’s Korean Service. Translated by Leejin Jun. Written in English by Eugene Whong.

Copyright © 1998-2020, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036. https://www.rfa.org

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How to identify Fake News or Messages on Social Media 

Beware of Fake News and Fake Messages on Social Media

Always follow websites or social media platforms of traditional media outlets whether newspapers, magazines,Television News Channels or Radio Stations and authentic online only media outlets.They still maintain journalism excellence and stress on reportorial talent.On the other hand, fake news websites run by people with non journalism background and promote their own ideology with fake news and disinformations and obviously conspiracy theories.

But unfortunately mainstream media also manipulates news to establish their story angle.There were various instances when News papers and TV Channels promoted fake news/conspiracy theories in the form of out of context or manipulated pictures/videos and distorted informations.

Always check the URL of any website.Some fake news websites look like the orginal and popular one the same layout,Logo but if you check the URL you may find extra words like if the orginal website's URL is www.xxx.com the duplicate one might be www.xxx.com.co or something like that so first check the URL for authentic informations.

Check whether photos are original or photoshopped.Check Google images for authenticity.You can find help from Google Reverse Images search.

Check the news sources from other websites whether they picked up the story or not.

Whether the website layout is little bit clumsy and obviously grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes and excessive use of Sex related and sensational and hate stories.Because sex and hate sells.

Follow official websites relating to COVID-19

WHO Clarifies the disinformation about the virus:
COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates
Cold Weather and Snow can not kill the new coronavirus
Taking a Hot Bath Does Not Prevent COVID-19
COVID-19 Can not be transmitted through mosquito bites

Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth)

According to World Health Organization (WHO): Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth . If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early.

Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover.

Follow WHO guidelines

www.who.int

When you follow COVID-19 related news and messages from social media then check and recheck it before consuming it.Follow journalism mantra: if your mother says she loves you, check it out.

Most of the messages or informations quote different organizations like WHO, UNICEF, UNDP,Cambridge University  or other well known institutes,organizations or individual to authenticate the messeges.Check official websites of these organizations  if stories are repeated there

Forwarding messages from unknown sources or little known sources, it would be better to ignore it.

Check whether any logo like UNICEF or WHO or other organizations used in the messages which look similar to original logo.

These type of messages are full of Grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes which are quite uncommon in original messages.

Some fake messages pretend to be real one like unofficial Twitter handle of international media organizations like BBC,CNN,Washinton Post, New York Times-check the official Twitter handles of media outlets.

You can identify fake messages if the message requests you to share it.

Beware of Fake News or Fake Photos/Videos Relating to Communal Hatred

Always check the fact checking sites if you have some doubts about the authenticity of any information or picture.

www.boomlive.in

www.altnews.in

https://check4spam.com

https://smhoaxslayer.com

www.factchecker.in

www.allsides.com

www.factcheck.org

www.newsbusters.org

www.politifact.com

www.snopes.com

www.propublica.org

The Same Method Applies to You Tube Videos Check the Source the credibility of the Source.To Check Fake You Tube Videos Check and Recheck the sources. Does the person have the legal right to the video posted? Did that person capture the video? Whether it has been altered?

But due to advancement of technology we can not really wipe out fake news.According to experts advent of  Artificial Intelligence(AI) some companies small or big one developing  technologies that can  lay digitally created script to anybody's voice  even words,sentences never said by the person.Even they a.re developing a technology which can create fake video footage,images,audios like originals.So be cautious! Rumour-mongers are active everywhere whether in physical world or cyber world.

Without evidence or with fake evidence, a conspiracy theory will always remain a conspiracy theory.

For any further information relating to fake news and how-to search authentic informations from the internet write to us info@crimeandmoreworld.com or Whats App:+916289017966

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