DPRK uses KCNA for preemptive “Food CYA”*

UPDATE 2: KCNA posted its second food “CYA” story on March 16th:

A UN special rapporteur for food issue on Mar. 8 expressed concern about worldwide food price rise.

The rapporteur said that the world is facing the same serious food crisis as in 2008 amid the rise of food prices for eight months on end, adding that this is attributable not only to the natural disasters but to speculation in the financial field.

UPDATE 1: I offered a rhetorical analysis.  Haggard has some data.

ORIGINAL POST: Here is the article from KCNA:

Pyongyang, February 7 (KCNA) — Price of foodstuff is skyrocketing worldwide, sparking serious concern.

The monthly world foodstuff price indices have gone up 3.4 percent in the period from December last year to January this year, said FAO of the United Nations on Feb. 3 quoting a survey data.

This is an all-time high since 1990 when foodstuff price survey kicked off. The price of foodstuff is expected to continue to soar in the coming months.

It is true that global food prices are rising.  Here it seems the North Korean government is both warning its people and deflecting blame for the problem.  Although few North Koreans will have access to the FAO report, KCNA is careful to highlight the foreign source (not Pyongyang). Of course making the announcement will set off a wave of hoarding in the DPRK leading food prices to increase even more.

Despite its claims, the DPRK government does have the power to improve food prices for the North Korean people.  The DPRK could shore up confidence in market institutions; give farmers greater individual incentives rather than emphasizing collective farming; make it easier for food shipments to travel internally, and ease border crossings for food shipments from China.

Marcus Noland and Stephan Haggard recently posted data on food price increases in the DPRK.

*”CYA” is “Cover your ass” (‘arse’ for our British friends).


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