Korea: November 9, 1999


North Koreas famine is expected to last at least another year, despite recent increases in local food production. Millions of North Koreans are in a weakened condition and a generation of children will suffer stunted physical and mental growth. Short term, the food crises had made it easier for the communist government to control the population, long term, it is liable to provide that one additional grievance that could cause the population to rise up against the dictatorship.

November 3; North Koreas three decades of work on long range missiles and chemical weapons has caused additional precautions to be taken in South Korea. All troops have long had gas masks and other protective gear, but now American dependants of soldiers have been issued gas masks. South Korean civilians are now trying to do the same. Because morale in the North Korean forces has suffered because of the famine, and financial difficulties have hurt military readiness, it is more likely that North Korea would resort to large scale use of chemical weapons if they attacked South Korea.

November 1; South Korea has opened a competition for 100 new fighters. It plans to buy 40 in the initial batch with a second batch of up to 60. The original plan had been to buy 120 aircraft, but this was reduced to 100 by financial limitations and could be further reduced to 80 in the future.--Stephen V Cole


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