North Korean farmers were sent to labour camps after withholding corn intended for state supplies. Officials are strip-searching the farms for hidden food during a severe shortage.

After China’s Covid pandemic, the Communist country’s harvest yields were cut off from Chinese imports fuel, fertiliser, and machinery. 

The government orders farmers to give 60% of their crop to them, while keeping 40%, which is barely enough to sustain them.

North Korean farmers have been sent to labour camps for withholding corn meant for state supplies (file image)

North Korean farmers were sent to labour camps after withholding corn intended for state supplies (file photo)

The Communist country's harvest yields are expected to be around 20 per cent lower than usual this year

The harvest yields in the Communist country are expected be around 20% lower than normal this year

Many farmers are trying to hide their grain from inspectors amid the crisis.

To stop the crisis, authorities have ordered other citizens to work for free every morning to keep the population from dying.

A source told RFA: ‘A few days ago, five farmers were caught hiding corn during an unexpected inspection. Each of them were sentenced to five years in a disciplinary labor centre.

“Since every farm receives distribution based upon yield, the amount of distribution for farmers is inevitably to be reduced.”

Some North Koreans have been drafted to work for free in what the government calls the ‘rice sheaf transportation war’.

After working in the fields all day, they are then subject to a body search before being allowed to return home.

Amid the looming crisis, many farmers have been trying to cheat the system and hide their grain from government inspectors

Many farmers are trying to hide their grain from government inspectors amid the crisis.

Authorities are concerned that they may be taking rice grains from clothes intended for state redistribution.

RFA spoke to a Songchon resident who said that they had helped with the transportation of rice sheaves from farms that had finished harvesting.

“They must move the rice sheaves out of the paddies to the thresher, which is hundreds of meters away.

“The central committee has instructed that the harvest be completed within the time frame so that no grain is wasted. This non-paid farmwork will be done from early morning to just before noon. 

Due to the mass mobilisation, family businesses now face a shortage in staff. People are being drafted to stop the food shortage. 

Every single person in North Pyongan’s Unsan region has been given the order to transport grain.

After they are done with the tedious work, bosses inspect their clothes and bags.  

Authorities have warned that shortages could continue until 2025 and ordered residents to start growing their own food

Authorities warned that food insecurity could continue to 2025 and urged residents to start growing their own food.

Despite North Korea having suffered from food shortages for decades, the current crisis has been made worse by the decision of Covid to close down borders and suspend trade.

Since then, food prices have risen dramatically and the UN recently predicted that the country would run out of 860,000 tons of food this year. This is equivalent to two months’ worth.

The UN World Food Programme estimates that around 40% of the world’s population is underfed.

Authorities warned that food shortages could continue into 2025, and ordered residents to begin growing their own food.

They suggested that the situation could be worsened than the ‘ArduousMarch’, the 1994-1998 famine that killed millions.  

Farmers will likely receive five to six months worth of food next year. Soldiers and other recipients will get their normal share.

Many North Koreans have second jobs to supplement their low government salaries. Farmers, however, don’t have the time and are now poor and hungry.