Hell is other people – South Koreans are being driven mad by noisy neighbours | Asia

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North Koreans ‘starving’ after virus closes border

Food insecurity in North Korea is deepening and some people are “starving” after it closed the border with China and took other steps against COVID-19, a UN rights expert has warned.

The hermetic totalitarian state, which has yet to confirm a single case of the novel coronavirus, introduced a range of other measures to try and prevent an outbreak.

Tomas Ojea Quintana, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the country, called for urgent action from Pyongyang and the international community to relieve the suffering.

“Lack of food had a devastating impact in the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) in the 1990s, and prospects of a further deepening of food shortages and widespread food insecurity are alarming,” he said.

Hundreds of thousands are believed to have died during a famine in the mid to late 1990s, a period known as the “Arduous March” in the North.

Before the coronavirus crisis, more than 40 percent of people in North Korea were already considered food insecure, with many suffering malnutrition.

One in five children under the age of five in the country are stunted, World Food Programme spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told a virtual briefing on Tuesday.

“Malnutrition on this scale means irreversible damage is being done to hundreds of thousands of children,” she said.

The decision five months ago to close the border with China, and putting thousands into isolation, are exacerbating the situation, said Quintana — an independent expert who does not speak on behalf of the UN but who reports his findings to it.

North Korea’s trade with China in March and April this year dropped by more than 90 percent, leaving many living in the border areas with no income, he said.

“There have been reports of an increase of homeless people in large cities, including kotjebi (street children), and medicine prices have reportedly skyrocketed,” his statement said.


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Mission to convince the North Koreans to give up nuclear weapons continues: Pompeo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that all United States intelligence indicates that North Korea‘s Kim Jong-Un is “alive and well.”

“We’ve seen the same images from yesterday that the world saw. It looks like Chairman Kim is alive and well. Regardless of any of that our mission has remained the same. To convince the North Koreans to give up their nuclear weapons,” Pompeo told ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday.

“We don’t know why he chose to leave at that moment. We know there are other extended periods of time which Chairman Kim’s been out of public view as well so it’s not unprecedented,” he added.

The young leader cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony of a new fertilizer plant, dispelling rumors that he was dead or in “grave condition.”

MORE: How reports of Kim Jong Un’s health spread and what they tell us about what comes next for North Korea

When pressed by Raddatz to reveal if he ever knew that Kim was gravely ill, Pompeo said, “I just can’t say anything about that.”

He also refused to answer whether Kim was suffering from COVID-19 or a cardiovascular problem.

“Martha, I appreciate you continuing to try, I just can’t offer you anything further this morning,” he said.

PHOTO: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, accompanied by State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus(L) speaks at a news conference at the State Department on April 29, 2020, in Washington,DC. (Andrew Harnik/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Talks to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear weapons program have been all but dead for months and Kim has announced his intention to pursue new nuclear and missile testing. Working-level negotiators last met in October, but neither side has been willing to move first, leaving them deadlocked.

In the meantime, North Korea continues to advance its nuclear weapons program. But Trump continues to tout his relationship with Kim and point to a lack of long-range missile testing as signs of a successful policy.

This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

Mission to convince the North Koreans to give up nuclear weapons continues: Pompeo originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

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