Has starvation become a foreign diplomacy tool?

[The Oregonian journalist Richard Read speaks to relief managers from Mercy Corps and Samaritan’s Purse, who claim that the Obama administration has abandoned Ronald Reagan’s “hungry-child policy” that separated food aid from politics. Read’s article, reproduced below, first appeared in OregonLive.com on 13 April 2013. –CanKor]

Relief managers from Portland-based Mercy Corps say U.S. let North Koreans starve as retribution for missile launch

By Richard Read, The Oregonian, updated April 13, 2013 at 10:55 PM
A North Korean mother lies with her acutely malnourished son, plagued by sores, at a county hospital in September 2011. (Photo by Jim White, Mercy Corps)

A North Korean mother lies with her acutely malnourished son, plagued by sores, at a county hospital in September 2011. (Photo by Jim White, Mercy Corps)

A 3-year-old girl weighed less than 16 pounds, surviving on saline solution and ground rice. Babies lay passively, too weak to cry. Relief workers saw stunted and wasted children languishing in unheated hospitals amid floods and reduced rations during an unusually harsh winter.

That was two years ago. Portland-based Mercy Corps and four other humanitarian organizations given rare access to North Korea warned: “a catastrophic situation is developing.” After a year of prodding, the U.S. Agency for International Development announced 120,000 metric tons of food for North Korea.

But food never reached hungry Koreans. The Obama administration let political distrust, instead of need, dictate food policy.

Communication and good will broke down, leaving White House officials little to draw on today as Pyongyang ratchets up threats of nuclear attack. Read the rest of this entry »

The End of the Beginning: Bringing About a Khrushchev Thaw in the DPRK

In the midst of Britain’s darkest hour, Winston Churchill famously remarked in 1942 that what the country faced was not “the end, it is not even the beginning of the end; but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

If there is anything to describe the events of what we have witnessed in the DPRK in the past week or so, Churchill’s words could not be closer to the truth. We seem to be at a bridge that has never been crossed in the history of the country, and no one is quite sure how long, or even how sturdy, this bridge actually is. The fact that this bridge is now in the horizon may also help some of us to rethink positions we have had in the past as well.

For many of us, from the perspective of observing North Korea from the “outside in,” the DPRK presents some unique and difficult challenges. It is important to note that it is in fact not even a fraction of the country that is responsible for the challenges that we are faced with; our quibble is with the people in Pyongyang who seem to hold the reins of power in that country.

With Kim Jong Il’s death, there has been a renewed interest in what we on the outside should be doing about those folks in Pyongyang we seem to have this quibble with. After all, we seem to be back at square one when it comes to dealing with the regime. Ten years of the Sunshine Policy brought very little in practical progress when it came to forcing the North Koreans to take off the proverbial Aesopian jacket. On the other hand, the last five years of hardline policies have produced equally dismal results. Read the rest of this entry »

CanKor Editor on Voice of America

CanKor editor-in-chief Erich Weingartner was interviewed by Eunjung (EJ )Cho, of Voice of American on the difference between secular and faith-based NGO approaches to DPRK food aid. The article can be read in the Korean original here.

(Those who are able to use the Google translator can probably make out the gist of the article in English or other languages. Unfortunately, the Google translator hasn’t been perfected as yet, and seems to have a particularly humorous interpretation of the Weingartner name.)

North Korea: Hungering for Human Rights

Dr. Robert R. King

In honour of North Korea Freedom Week, the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research hosted an expert panel on Wednesday, 27 April 2011, to discuss human rights in North Korea. The panel discussion included Ambassador Robert R. King, the Obama administration’s special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, who made a presentation on recent events in the DPRK, especially how these impact the US response to the request by DPRK authorities for food assistance.

The panel was moderated by Nicholas Eberstadt, a Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Other panelists were: Ken Isaacs, VP for Programs at the humanitarian agency Samaritan’s Purse; Robert M. Collins, retired political analyst with the Strategic Studies Institute of the United States Army War College; and Chuck Downs, Executive Director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.

A video of this event can be viewed here.

Food Security Assessment by 5 US NGOs

OVERVIEW

A team of seven experts from five U.S.-based non-governmental organizations – Christian Friends of Korea, Global Resource Services, Mercy Corps, Samaritan’s Purse and World Vision – recently finished a needs assessment for food security in three provinces of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The team found evidence of looming food shortages and rising malnutrition.

The team traveled to the provinces of North Pyongan, South Pyongan and Chagang over a week period from February 8-15. The assessment was requested by the North Korean government.

FINDINGS Read the rest of this entry »

Aid Agencies Complete Needs Assessment in North Korea

Hungju Chicken Farm, Chagang Province, DPRK

Hungju Chicken Farm, Chagang Province, DPRK

Below is a press release issued by five aid agencies who warn of looming food shortages and acute malnutrition in North Korea. Press release below:

Washington, DC— Five aid agencies have found evidence of looming food shortages and acute malnutrition in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). A team of seven experts from Christian Friends of Korea, Global Resource Services, Mercy Corps, Samaritan’s Purse and World Vision recently finished a week-long needs assessment for food security in three North Korean provinces. Read the rest of this entry »

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