SEOUL: North Korea’s official newspaper said on Wednesday (Feb 22) that relying on external aid to cope with food shortages would be equal to taking “poisoned candy”, urging economic self-reliance despite deepening hardships amid sanctions and coronavirus lockdowns.
The isolated country has suffered food shortages in recent years, reeling from floods and typhoons, international sanctions aimed at curbing its nuclear and missile programmes, and a sharp cut in trade with China due to border closures and COVID-19 lockdowns.
Most UN agencies and Western relief groups have since left North Korea, with China remaining one of the few sources of external food assistance.
In a commentary, the ruling Workers’ Party paper Rodong Sinmun warned against receiving economic help from “imperialists” who use aid as a “trap to plunder and subjugate” recipient countries and interfere with their internal politics.
“It is a mistake to try to boost the economy by accepting and eating this poisoned candy,” the commentary said.
The article came as South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported on Wednesday that about 700 inmates at three countryside prisons, including in the central city of Kaechon, have died from famine and diseases over the past two years, citing an unnamed source.