While North Korea’s pampered elite enjoy all the trappings of luxury in its capital Pyongyang, most of the country’s population endures grinding poverty and chronic hunger. In June, leader Kim Jong-un revealed at the ruling Workers’ Party committee that the nation’s people are dealing with “tense” food shortages. Kim blamed last year’s typhoons, which led to flooding and meant grain targets couldn’t be met.
However, the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is also to blame. North Korea has firmly closed its borders to try to shut out the virus, although reports claim it hasn’t succeeded, and has refused the offer of vaccines from Russia on several occasions, but this approach has also meant shutting off trade from its neighbor China, which it relies on for food, fuel and fertilizer. And so food shortages have got a lot worse in what was an already difficult situation as the country is under numerous sanctions due to its nuclear program. Kim has warned his people to prepare for the “worst ever outcome”, which many believe is a reference to the 1990s famine, although he and his elite are unlikely to be hugely affected.
As the situation worsens for ordinary people, click or scroll through to discover the shocking gap between rich and poor in the notorious rogue state.