T Nation

N Koreans turn to cannibalism

 Kim JongII needs to set his priorities straight. His people are not only starving, they're DYING and KILLING because of starvation. His WMD wont defend anybody if this keeps going on...I thought N Koreans eating hay was ridiculous and outlandish. Read on.

Famine-struck N Koreans ‘eating children’
By Mark Nicol
(Filed: 08/06/2003)

Cannibalism is increasing in North Korea following another poor harvest and a big cut in international food aid, according to refugees who have fled the stricken country.

Aid agencies are alarmed by refugees’ reports that children have been killed and corpses cut up by people desperate for food. Requests by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to be allowed access to “farmers’ markets”, where human meat is said to be traded, have been turned down by Pyongyang, citing “security reasons”.

Anyone caught selling human meat faces execution, but in a report compiled by the North Korean Refugees Assistance Fund (NKRAF), one refugee said: “Pieces of ‘special’ meat are displayed on straw mats for sale. People know where they came from, but they don’t talk about it.”

The NKRAF, an aid body set up in China five years ago which helps to smuggle food and medicines into parts of North Korea off-limits to WFP officials, interviewed 200 refugees for the report.

“If a funeral takes place during the day and the burial is performed that evening, the grave may be dug open and the body stolen before morning,” said one refugee.

Another witness, named only as Lee, 54, said he feared that his missing grandsons, aged eight and 11, had been killed for food. As he searched widely for them, they boys’ friends said they had vanished near a market.

Mr Lee said police who raided a nearby restaurant found body parts. The business’s owners were shot.

Gerald Bourke, the WFP’s representative in Beijing, said it was difficult for his organisation to substantiate the reports of cannibalism as they were unable to get to the markets. “As in any desperately poor country, it is something we might stumble on,” he said. “It’s not just a problem for us, but also our donors.” Because of the food shortages, many people were having to survive on nine ounces of rations a day - less than half the recommended minimum daily intake.

North Korea’s ability to feed itself has been hit by floods, deforestation and lack of farm fertilisers and equipment.

The WFP says Japan provided 500,000 tons of food aid in 2001, making it the biggest donor, but sent nothing last year. Food aid from America has been cut from 340,000 tons in 2001 to 40,000 tons so far this year. Washington has pledged to send a further 60,000 tons if Pyongyang lifts restrictions on the operations of agencies such as the WFP.

I can’t understand why there hasn’t been a coup yet in this country. Don’t the generals at least care about the people?

And the thing is, all the people are completely brainwashed. They think the U.S went in and performed experiments on them (actually the Japanese did), that our food aid is a “tribute”, that every bad thing to happen to them is a conspiracy by the U.S… They have one radio station and radios can only pick up that one station.

I have a friend who went there on a “business trip”, he told me, the people there think the whole world is in a famine and energy shortage, not just them.

Unlike the beliefs of the blood for oil conspiracy theorists, that is the one major reason we don’t really want a war with N. Korea, unlike Iraq, every N. Korean citizen would take up arms. That and the artillery pointed at Seoul that would kill 300,000 people the first few hours of any combat. In Iraq we could do a pretty good job of minimizing civilian casualties, but no way on the Korean peninsula, it would be millions.

“North Korea’s ability to feed itself has been hit by floods, deforestation and lack of farm fertilisers and equipment.”

And this pisses me off too. The famine was created by man, by “land reform”; just like in Zimbabwe right now, in China’s Great Leap Forward, and in all the famines that have happened in every Communist country where land was redistributed and the state thought it knew better than a country full of consumers and producers.

For the past 100 years or so, every famine in the world was created by governments. Remember Ethiopia in the 80’s, when everyone got on the “Feed the World” kick? That famine was an attempt by the Ethiopian government to force people to leave their homes.

The North Korean regime is sick -very true. A sad sad situation.

But this didn’t develop overnight. The situation could have been helped long ago if other governments REALLY gave a shit about the NK people, but they don’t.

You know whats NOT helping this deal? Thats right, its the US war on Iraq. Its making Kim’s regime more than a little nervous. The Bush admin has gotta know that it would force Kim to up their rhetoric and nuclear program.

Hear their latest statement? Its like a veiled plea for help.

Now you have legislation passed in Japan authorizing military action in reaction to North Korean aggression. Some radicals in the Jpn govmt are imitating GWB and are calling for pre-emptive strikes & a restarting of a nuclear weapons program.

Thankfully there are too many Japanese who remember what a militaristic government gets you - so these notions are being put down…for now, or for how long?

Does the thought of Japan having WMDs comfort you?

Seeing as right wing & fascist groups still wield a lot of influence in Japan I wouldn’t be jumping for joy.

I’m not blaming Bush himself because I think he’s too stupid to really understand the history & all of the factors involved. But those hawks surrounding him are plain dangerous.

I’m sure greateful dubya has made this world a more peaceful place.

the last line should read “grateful”.
apologies

This really disturbs me. Especially being a father! I can’t imagine how low humanity would have to sink when people would consider eating another human, especially that of a child. I would rather die than eat the meat of a child. Breaks my heart to think about losing a child, and wondering if they are being eaten by one of my neighbors. Makes me want to get off of work early and go hug my kids!

*sighs*


 Kuri. We have tried negotiating with N Koreans. But what do they do? That's right, they lock in our aircraftm, they launch a missile to the sea of japn and they threaten us with a nuclear war. 

 We had an agreement. N Koreans would abandon their nuke program in exchange for support from the UN. They got their support, we got....backstabbed.


 So, no. We will not reward someone who backstabs us once with more food and support when they threaten us with a nuclear war if we dont resume support for them, and threaten to build several more nukes in the next few years.


 And as for the comment that the rest of the world shouldve done somthing about its present situation...


 NO WE SHOULDNT. We're nobody's babysitter. We will not support an enemy when he keeps raising its head. Remember the Korean war? Remember how many of our servicemen were killed? We're not exactly friends. And we owe them nothing. 

  It is the N Korean government's responsibility to promote prosperity, safety, and to eliminate hunger, death, and poor living conditions. Kim Jong II could so easily do this. For one, if eliminates his nuke program, the US would resume its annual 250,000+ tons of aid to the N Koreans. So would the japanese. In fact there's a special japanese group that specializes in infiltrating certain hard to reach areas of N Korea just to distribute food against Kim Jong's decision. Truth is, the rest of the world cares more about those people than Kim Jong does. Then again, we cannot keep sending them food eternally. And we cannot reward an evil bastard by sending them more food. Sometimes the people have to rise up and do whats right. 

 Secondly, Kim Jong, could stop spending an absurd ammount of money in it military. In case you didnt know, N Korea spends the biggest percentage of the budget for the military. That money would feed their own people, instead of depending on the UN and the US, or Japan for food aid. It would also create new jobs. Promote agriculture and cattle growth. Promote tourism to capture some money from tourists. Open up to other countries, so that things such as international celebrities, entertainment and music stars could atract an audience there that would pay to see them, and therefore generate more money for the government. Promote education and overseas educational opportunities in top colleges which will raise a new group of very well paid individuals which will generate more tax money for the government.

 It's kim Jongs responsibility. It's not easy, but he can definitely do it if he opens up, stops being a threat, and spends his money wisely to solve his REAL problems, not the imagined ones. No one wants to attack him if he doesnt have a nuke program. 

 Just look at S Korea. See how far theyve come. They're economy improved 18-fold since they started working on it. N Korea's economy meanwhile is spiraling downwards, as did Iraq's economy, with the economic sanctions imposed on it, and the stop of UN help.


 But the bottom line? We dont reward evil threats who break our trust and blackmail us for more help afterwards. And its not our responsibility to do what their government should be doing.

Kuri, I think you are dead wrong.

If you remember, Kim Jong Il said things all the way up till March like “we will make the Korean Peninsula a nuclear wasteland”

The SECOND we invaded Iraq, almost all that bluster stopped. A few weeks later, he agreed to have China sit in on talks. Before, both he and China refused.

Our invasion helped the situation, when he saw Bush means what he says.

Good points, Diesel.

N Koreans does not have nukes. I think we would have seen it by now if they do I have nukes.

Also, the only thing I found sad about N Korea is that Kim Jong believes in his own redric and stuipity. And thats the scary part.

China does not want to be apart of N Korea’s mess. Although, N Korea wants China to get involved but it won’t happen. So, in the end it will work out.

I agree with fitone on 'ol Kim, he needs to go, not that we need to be the ones to do it though…

Well if I was hungry
and in the mood for something new
I’d eat a kid wouldn’t u ?
but they put alot of crap in their mouth
i don’t know how tasty it would be

p.s. goat

1st off I am not argueing that Kim is the good guy & should feed his people rather than build weapons.

Diesel, you say we don’t owe them? In a sense I agree, we don’t “owe” them, but there are people starving, and as fellow residents of this planet, the US, as a rich nation should do what it can to help - and to NOT escalate tensions.

By your logic we shouldn’t help any country where US soldiers were killed? Think that one through some more.

Hear Kim’s newest threats just yesterday? His rhetoric has NOT subsided one bit, but increased.

NK also said that any attempt at blocking food shipments (aimed at Japan) is provocation for war.

There are frequent shipments of food from Japan, in fact yesterday there was a ship hauling some 16 tons, but was held up at port due to increasingly strict policy by the Japanese government.

Do you know who organizes alot of these shipments? It is North Koreans and their families who have settled in Japan. They are PRO North Korean groups, not some special-op aid org. I live 100 miles from ports where these ships dock.

Many countries including the US have and are offering aid, and it is very sad what has been done with that aid, and what the Korean gvmt has done to their own people - and it is a difficult situation to solve due to the severity of tensions and distrust.

But the point is that now the view of the US from the outside is one of a country that will bomb another at the drop of a hat, a country out for domination, not peace.

This is not just me, unfortunately this is what I hear from people and in media abroad.

Diesel:
You’re suggesting that policy be based on feelings rather than the rational best interests of the parties involved. Foreign relations often require actions which would seem unpleasant or difficult to stomach in order to achieve the ideal (or more likely least costly) outcome. It may not be “right” that the US polices the world, but the US does so out of its own best interests.
An expansion N. Korea’s military capabilities will destabilize the region over the long-term and exacerbate regional tensions. An overly aggressive stance will risk putting the regime in a position in which it will have nothing to lose in war, which encourages states like Japan and S. Korea to seek their own solutions, because they face a much greater cost than the US does if US policies fail. The N. Korean regime spends what it does on its military because of a deep-seated fear of invasion. Discussions in the US of “regime change” only encourage them to spend more on both conventional forces and nuclear weapons. The regime is simply looking to survive at this point. From its perspective though, it has few ways out. If it gives up its military capabilities, it faces attack. Although they apparently have considered moving to pure nuclear deterrence, allowing them to scale back conventional forces. This requires a larger nuclear force and effective means of delivery to the primary threat they are attempting to deter, the US. It also requires enough redundancy to allow an effective second-strike capability.
If they open up, they risk losing control ideologically. This is why their reform experiments have been isolated and in partnership with exclusively PRC corporations. Furthermore, their economic reform initiatives have mostly been disastrous. War obviously does not offer substantial odds of a favorable outcome, nor does doing nothing and allowing an economic collapse. Their best chance for survival is an aggressive foreign policy short of war which they hope will yield the subsidies they need to stay in power. If they can get the aid they are looking for, they will likely accept most conditions which they do not consider be of greater risk to their regime than that which the aid mitigates.
From the US end, aggressive military action on its part puts the North in a position in which it has nothing to lose in doing its best to destroy its opponents in the region, and to the extent that it’s capable, the US. This is not a risk the US wants to take. One may argue that they might sell nuclear weapons to terrorists; therefore the US would be preventing a nuclear attack by preemptively attacking. The problem with this logic though is that the sale of nuclear weapons to a terrorist is a lower probability event than is a nuclear response by the North if it is attacked-- and its response would also be of a greater magnitude.
Its unfortunate that the administration burned a number of bridges in the region in its first year, but in all likelihood, it will come around to engagement once again. Otherwise, it’s likely that the regional players will cut a deal with the North to diffuse the situation, but the result of that would be a long-term diminution of US influence in the region. The withdrawal of US troops from the DMZ area does constitute an escalation in that it changes the role of US troops from its cold war token “commitment” force to one with offensive capabilities, but that said, the US isn’t going to attack the North and the North isn’t going to attack the South. Despite all the rhetoric, status quo will prevail because it is the least costly and least risky option for either side.

“It is unclear whether their cannibalism was a routine matter, or rather the result of famine. In any case, as one African historian points out, cannibalism is one way to get protein”
~Michael Pearson

Sorry Kuri, I still disagree, I’ve seen the same statements and they don’t look like anything. I mean, as far back as I can remember N. Korea has been making bombastic declarations almost every day. The PRC as well, over every little thing.

Plus, the fact they were even willing to meet with China shows it’s getting better. Of course there are still statements being made, as long as I can remember they’ve been shouting about something every day,…but I don’t see nearly the hostility.

I think moving the US troops away will help, though I read in some N. Korean statement that moving the troops away is an act of “hostility” so… with people like Kim Jong Il, kindness is interpreted as weakness.

As for what people think of the US, that doesn’t even matter, should US foreign policy be determined by how popular it will make us? Should Japan determine its foreign policy that way? No of course not. People hated the US before when Clinton was president just as much as they hate us now so… just because others want the US to behave differently doesn’t mean that’s the right course of action.


Kuri, do you have any reading comprehensions - at all?

Go back and reread my post. Make sure you Understand it.

The reason for not helping a country like N Korea is not because our soldiers died there - It's because they are OUR ENEMY and we're at a NUCLEAR STANDOFF with them, in case you havent read the news.

 Again, as I said, we're nobody's babysitter. Pay particular attention to this sentence, I know you have difficulty understanding written words:

 WE DO NOT REWARD AN EVIL BASTARD WHO IS AT A NUCLEAR STANDOFF WITH US, WHO HAS VOWED TO TURN THE KORAN PENISNULA INTO A NUCLEAR WASTELAND, AND TO HIT THE WESTERN UNITED STATES (CALIFORNIA) WITH A LONG RANGE MISSILE, BY HELPING THEM OUT.

  Up until they declared they had activated their Nuclear program, guess who sent them the vast majority of food shipments and aid? At over 250,000 tons of aid a year, it was the US. Guess why it stopped - that's right because at this point we're at a NUCLEAR STANDOFF with them. 


  It's called diplomacy - we can easily choose to go to war wioth them, and see over a million casualties from that war; Or we can use diplomacy to get them to stop being a threat to world peace - this diplomacy consists of cutting off aid shipments to them, which were AID SHIPMENTS that we DID NOT have to send them. They were HELP from us, not an OBLIGATION from us. 

  Finally, again its KIM JONGs responsibility to get LEAD his country out of its current state, NOT OURS. If Kim Jong wanted all he has to do is stop being a threat, and voila the aid shipments return. If he is even smarter he can use his money wisely and invest in agriculture and education. He could even go so far as to (gasp) return his military budget to sane levels, instead of spending the biggest percentage of his budget on his military when people are resorting to cannibalism to survive.

  Truth is, Jong is a paranoid idiot - idiot because he has no idea what he's doing, and paranoid because in his mind everybody's out to get him (we are NOW, that he has provoked us and pushed us to such limits by building NUCLEAR WEAPONS).

  Again, Kuri and E McKee, I know its hard to understand when you're a hippie and believe you should help those who are poor even if they threaten to kill your breathren and turn part of our world into a nuclear wasteland, but please try - WE'RE AT A NUCLEAR STANDOFF WITH THEM. This is what happens, and we're at this point because Kim Jong is an idiot of a leader. He got his people in this mess by being negligent and careless about them in the first place. It's HIS responsibility to return to SANITY, which god knows it wont be easy for him.

Emotion has absolutely zero place in decision making in politics. If leaders in the cold war had thought with their balls instead of their brains, we wouldn’t be here right now. The action that you feel is right, moral, just, or “manly” is quite frequently not the action in a state’s best interests. Decisions should --and generally are on that level-- be made in a totally cold an calculating manor. A state may show its balls or emotion as part of the game, but decisions are made with the brain. Not every game has an ideal outcome, such is life. Take the least costly outcome, suck it up, and move on.

Diesel, 1st off, please spell check your posts as that last one was almost “inreedible”, unless you meant “Koran penisnula” as some sort of pun- in either case thanks for the laugh.

Look, nobody here is defending Kim.

Please take emckee’s post on emotion into consideration.

I live in Japan thus see Japanese news everyday, where this topic dominates. Japan does NOT want regime change (some radicals do talk of it)- and they are the ones threatened by N Korea most directly. They see working on a settlement as the best solution and know talk of “regime change” just ups the hostility.

Kim’s regime is showing signs of desperation I believe by stating that it would scale back conventional arms (ie. no fuel to fly planes or drive tanks) for a nuclear program.

He obviously will do anything to stay in power, including starving his own people and go to the brink of war - which he knows he would lose. Regardless, he has something to gain by appearing to be crazy enough to bomb Seoul (which he would if struck, but hey we’re safe in the US right so who cares!)and increasingly has nothing to lose. that is frightening.

I hope that the US, Japan, S. Korea, and China recognize this. Pres. Roh seems to as his stance softens at home, backing away from what he said in DC.

The good thing is that China also does NOT want nuclear weapons in Korea, and they have alot at stake economically as well, so in the end they will push N. Korea towards a settlement. China is also worried about Japan talking about nuclear weapons and missle defense systems (the Taiwan straits matter)so wants to diffuse that situation at the same time.

So in the end, S. Korea, China, & Japan probably will influence a settlement.

The wildcard is the US talking about regime change. Now THIS is dangerous.
The US pulling back troops from the DMZ can be taken a few ways:

  1. as a gesture of peace

  2. as punishment to S. Korea for huge anti-American protests both last yr and those expected this Friday (1st anniversery of 2 Korean girls being killed by US military vehicles, then the officers found innocent in a US military court)

  3. as preparation for a pre-emptive strike in which the forward troops would be in risk of capture.

It doesn’t matter what WE think the reason is, but which does N. Korea think it is?

Considering continued US talk of regime change how can they NOT pick #3?

  The pull back of troops can only be seen as an escalation. Their purpose is to guarantee to the North that the US is committed to defending the south in case of invasion. To illustrate, it's story time-- During the cold war, the US kept a garrison of ~15k (the number I recall) crack troops in Berlin to deter the Soviets from annexing the city. When it's is considered though that the by the US's own estimates these troops would all be dead or captured within a couple of days of the start of a war, it would seem rather curious. The reason they were there though was to visibly constrain choice on the American side. If the Soviets had annexed an empty Berlin, the US would be in a position in which it could either back down, or start a war which would destroy itself. Obviously the credibility of its claim that it would retaliate in such a situation would be questionable at best. With the garrison on the other hand, if the Soviets attempted to annex the city, they would have had to have killed or taken prisoner the entire garrison, which would put the US in a position both domestically and on the world stage in which it would have absolutely no choice but to engage in war. Its choices would be constrained by the audience costs; if the US didn't respond in such a situation in which an entire division was massacred, it would have no credibility for its threats of response anywhere else, in addition to domestic response. Thus with the garrison, the US threat of response to Soviet aggression was totally credible.
In Korea, the status quo up until now has been preserved by the presence of the US troops near the border. The North could kill the garrison within three hours of hostility commencing which would force a response from the US, leading to eventual defeat of the North. This was a situation of equilibrium; either side could inflict unbearable costs on the other, therefore neither did. By withdrawing the troops though, the US loses much of its disincentive to strike first. This obviously threatens the North and the status quo. In order to regain its deterrent, it will do whatever is necessary in order to threaten the US sufficiently as to make the US unwilling to launch a preemptive strike. The only option in this case is ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. With ICBM's, they would be able to return the situation to an equilibrium with a relationship of mutual deterrence resembling MAD-- less symmetric, but effective nonetheless. 
The ultimate goal of the regime at this point is to ensure its own survival. It must be assumed that this goal will be pursued with any and all means necessary, and the probability of surviving a regional conflict--especially if it remains conventional-- is non-zero.
As kuri has mentioned, some Japanese have begun discussing taking Japanese defense into their own hands. This would be disastrous. China's single greatest fear is a remilitarized Japan, and they will stop at nothing to prevent that. The arms race which would ensue if Japan remilitarized-- which would also lead to US troops being kicked out of Japanese bases along with a Japanese nuclear weapons program-- would spread to Southeast Asia and the Indian Subcontinent, and even into the middle east. The entire Asian continent is a mess of tangled alliances, mutual friends and mutual enemies. 
No one wants to destabilize the situation any further. This is why the situation will be solved locally if the US doesn't make an effort to solve it under its own leadership. The price though would be a substantial loss of influence and leadership in the region though.

There is a substantial quantity of literature on all of the topics covered, if you are interested.