North Korea’s cry for help in feeding its people poses a stark contrast to its recent bellicose rhetoric, offering a glimpse of a much different reality for a nation which, in recent weeks, has threatened to obliterate its enemies into a “sea of fire”.

At a courtesy call on the president of Mongolia, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, Pyongyang’s ambassador to Ulan Bator Hong Gyu requested for much-needed food aid, citing a “severe food shortage” gripping the isolated nation, according to the official website for the head of state.

Millions of North Koreans live in perpetual starvation as the yield from corn harvest remains insufficient, reports the Wall Street Journal. Malnutrition in North Korea is so severe that the most of the population has shrunk in height, experts say. But the regime may also be to blame for the food shortage.

Some sources have revealed how food was often used as leverage to control starving people. There are also reports claiming the greatest food amounts are distributed in Pyongyang, which is considered the purest and most loyal of the population, reports Christian Science Monitor.

The chronic food crisis has reduced some North Koreans to eating weeds and grass, especially during the famine in the mid 1990s.