The video was shot over several months by an undercover North Korean journalist who smuggled the footage out to China and could face the death penalty. It was obtained by Australian Broadcasting Corp this week.
In the video, young children blackened with dirt beg for food, including an eight-year-old boy who tells the reporter, “My father died and my mother left me. I sleep outdoors.” The boy is one of many orphans in the country whose parents died of starvation or in forced labor camps.
The army, too, is starting to go hungry, with one soldier saying that he estimates half of of the soldiers are malnourished. The state no longer has any rations to give them. In the video, a party official demands a donation of rice from a stallholder, who protests that his business is bad.
“Shut up,” the official says. “Don’t offer excuses.”
ABC speculates that the fact that the even the army is starving shows that Kim Jong-il could be losing his grip.
The rampant corruption in the country also becomes apparent in footage of North Koreans toiling over a private railway track for Kim Jong-un, son of the country’s leader Kim Jong-il and the heir apparent. Soon, 27-year-old Jong-un may be presiding over a country of starving serfs.
North Korea had a famine in the late 1990s that killed 2 million people, according to ABC.
Watch the video below.