Saturday, 4 December 2004

Another reason to hope for North Korea's collapse

This is what Stalinism does for you. Maybe North Korea will collapse so their people can eat:

Sixty years of North Korean communism have had a grim and unexpected impact on its citizens: it has paralysed their growth.

While their cousins in the south have thrived physiologically, thanks to the comforts of capitalism, North Koreans remain as stunted in stature as they were after the Second World War. Adolescents look like children, adults like young teenagers. Nor is the height difference a slight one. After studying more than 2,300 refugees who have fled the north over the past four years, anthropologist Sunyoung Pak has found that the average young northern male is 5.9cm (2.32in) shorter than his southern contemporary. The difference for women is 4.1cm (roughly 1.62in).

‘North Koreans are clearly suffering from chronic growth retardation,’ said Pak, of Seoul National University in South Korea. Her studies, to be published in the international journal, Economics and Human Biology, this month, suggest that North Koreans must have suffered severe malnutrition problems virtually since Korea split into two states in 1948.

Her research shows that the only ages at which the average North Korean in her sample and the average South Korean share about the same height is from 50 to 69 years. Since height is determined during the early teenage years, this suggests that North Korea began to suffer food shortages at least by the 1960s.

There may be hope, yet. I had read in recent years that the non-military portion of the population was getting by on 600 calories a day, while the military gets 1000. Neither number is good and maybe things will get bad enough that someone high up in Mr. Kim’s government will pop him.