Korea: January 25, 2005

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North Korea has cut the basic food ration about 29 percent, to nine ounces of cereals (rice or other grains) a day. This is half the amount needed to remain healthy, and is basically a starvation diet, unless people can scrounge up other sources off food. Reports of widespread malnutrition continue to come out of North Korea, and people escaping into China are poorly fed. It's uncertain why the government cut the basic ration. Either they want to build up reserve stocks, send more food to the military or sell more of it on the farmers markets. The government has allowed 300 farmers markets to be opened in the past few years, and this has encouraged farmers to grow more food. But the prices on the farmers markets continues to grow, fueling inflation, and corruption. Government officials are more willing to do things for a bribe, because they know they can buy more food, and just about anything else, at the now-legal farmers markets. Earlier, there were illegal black markets. These were much harder to get to, and carried the risk of death or prison if you were caught. The legal farmers markets have changed everything.

 

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