While favorable weather and increased use of fertilizer has driven agricultural production, North Korea’s food situation is worse than ever, according to the UN.
North Korea experienced an economic growth of 0.8% real GDP in 2011. According to the Bank of Korea, the agriculture sector expanded by 5.3% while construction rose 3.9%. However, the closed state remains one of the world’s poorest, according to the Financial Times. North Korea’s economy was estimated at 32.4 trillion won ($244 million) last year, with a per-capita income of 1.3 million won, compared to South Korea’s 24.9 million won.
It trades exclusively with China after trade ties with South Korea was severed. Chinese demand for North Korean natural resources accounts for most of country’s external trade and is worth $6.3 billion. Trade between the two Koreas fell 10.4% to just $1.7 billion last year.
About two-thirds of North Korea’s population still suffer from chronic food shortage. North Korea, dependent on foreign aid to feed its population of 24 million, is at risk of severe food shortages as international aid declines. This could be further exacerbated with international sanctions over Pyongyang’s nuclear programme. The UN has called for donations worth $198m for North Korean children suffering from hunger and malnutrition.