Coalition of South Korean Women’s Organizations Demand an Immediate Response to the Food Crisis in North Korea

May 16, 2019

For immediate release:

A Coalition of South Korean Women’s Organizations Demand an Immediate Response to the Food Crisis in North Korea

Seoul, South Korea—A coalition of South Korean women’s organizations are demanding that the South Korean government authorize the immediate delivery of food aid to North Korea. The demand comes after a May 3 report released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP) warned of a food crisis in North Korea.

According to the report, last year North Korea’s food production fell to its lowest levels since the 2008/2009 season, with food shortages affecting 10.1 million people, or 43% of North Koreans. Only one-third of North Korean children receive the minimum amount of food needed for survival. One in five children suffers from chronic malnutrition and is at risk of underdevelopment.

In response to the report, the South Korean Ministry of Unification declared that it would address the issue of food aid to the North Korean people “on the basis of brotherly and humanitarian principles.” Yet it added that the food aid plan would be “implemented in full conformity with national opinions” and therefore hinged on “national sympathy and support for aid to North Korea.” 

As women, we fully support food aid to North Korea and demand the following:

  1. Immediately send food aid to North Korea. The report warned that the situation could further deteriorate during the lean season, between May and September. Time is running out. The Ministry of Unification said even an immediate decision on food aid would take at least two months to implement procedurally. We urge the Ministry to press the central government for a swift decision on food aid, and to help local governments and civil organizations deliver food to North Korea quickly and effectively.
  2. Create a plan to regularly send aid to help overcome North Korea’s recurrent food crises. North Korea suffers from recurrent food shortages, and it is expected that food production will continue to decline this year due to drought. Therefore, the central government, local governments, and humanitarian aid organizations should plan for regular and institutionalized food aid. The government also should take concrete steps to establish a life community on the Korean Peninsula based on mutual benefit and confidence-building.
  3. The South Korean government should separate the issue of humanitarian assistance from political discussions. With 43% of North Koreans suffering from food shortages and one-third of children receiving only the minimal amount of food for survival, it would be inhumane to prevent food aid from reaching the North Korean people because of the political conditions set by the United States and South Korea related to the denuclearization process. “We must separate humanitarianism and politics,” urged David Beasley, Secretary-General of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), on May 13. The South Korean government should make its own decision, free from politics, to send humanitarian aid to North Korea.

Kyunggi Women’s Association United

Kyungnam Women’s Association United

Daegu Kyungbuk Women’s Association United

Daegu Women’s Association

Busan Women’s Association United

National Solidarity Against Sexual Exploitation of Women

Suwon Women’s Association

Korea Women’s Center for Social Research

Ulsan Women’s Association

Korea Women’s Alliance

Justice Party Women Committee

Jeju Association for Women’s Rights

Women Making Peace

Pohang Women’s Association

Korean Women Workers Association

Korean Women’s Association United

Korean Womenlink

Korea Women’s Hot Line

Korean Hanbumo Association

House Wives Meeting Together

National YWCA of Korea

Korean Women’s Movement for Peace