Korea: February 20, 2003

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For the first time in 20 years, a North Korean warplane entered South Korean air space. A North Korean MiG-19 (a 1950s era design) flew off the west coast, 13 kilometers into South Korean air space, before turning around. Six South Korean F-5E (a 1970s design) were sent up to confront the MiG-19. The North Korean air force is composed largely of relics like the MiG-19, and pilots who barely know how to fly because of the shortage of fuel for training flights. South Korean pilots fly more modern aircraft, and fly them a lot more frequently, thus giving the south a substantial quality edge against the north in any air battle. 

UN aid agencies warn that if donor nations don't come forward to finance new food shipments, the health gains in North Korea over the last four years will be lost. The UN pointed out that in 1998, when major food donations began, some 61 percent of North Korean children were seriously underweight, but last year it was only 21 percent. Despite large scale diversions of food aid to the North Korean military (which contains nearly half of the males in their 20s), refugees from the north report hunger in the ranks. Nearly a decade of famine has brought to the military smaller and weaker (and more unhappy) recruits. The refugees also report shortages of fuel and spare parts, and ageing ammunition stocks that produce unreliable results when used for live fire exercises (artillery shells that are duds or are inaccurate, rifle ammo that causes jammed weapons.) 

 

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