The New Year seldom brings much to celebrate in North Korea — where food and energy shortages regularly accompany a long, bitter winter. This time around the outlook is even more uncertain, as Pyongyang’s Stalinist government moves to reassert control over the food supply, a move some experts fear will lead the isolated country into another famine.
With the end of 2005, the U.N.'s World Food Program is slated to shut down its decade-long food distribution effort in North Korea after Pyongyang told the organization that the aid was no longer needed. The program was the biggest multinational humanitarian program in the country and was instrumental in pulling North Korea out of a famine that killed up to 2.5 million people in the mid-1990s and drove many to flee the country. At the same time, the government announced it would revert to central control of all grain distribution, shutting down market-based experiments in grain sales that started in 2002. Then the military reportedly seized grain earmarked as incentives for growers, while promising increased rations across the board.
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Axis of Evil