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Report: North Korea Skips Food Ration

The Associated Press
Wednesday, January 17, 2007; 11:15 AM

SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korea skipped giving extra food rations to its people on New Year's Day, except the elite citizens of Pyongyang, a South Korean aid group said Wednesday, a possible sign the country's food situation may be worsening.

New Year's Day is a major holiday in North Korea and the communist regime doles out special rations to its hunger-stricken population of 23 million.

The North's government had promised to give a day of extra rations to its people, but did not, said the Seoul-based Good Friends in its newsletter.

Still, citizens in the capital of Pyongyang received three days of extra rations and more special rations were given to medium-level government officials living there, the group said.

The group does not say where it obtained the information. However, many of its previous reports of what was happening inside the isolated country have later been confirmed.

North Korea has relied on foreign food aid since natural disasters and mismanagement devastated its economy in the mid-1990s and led to a famine estimated to have killed 2 million people.

Early this month, a North Korean Agriculture Ministry official claimed that the country's grain production last year was not bad and the country was not facing any impending food crisis, according to a pro-North Korea paper in Japan.


© 2007 The Associated Press