How bad off are North Koreans? This bad

There’s plenty of stories about North Korea in the news these days, largely to do with their recent moves toward rapprochement with the South during the upcoming Olympic Games. And when we’re not talking about that, we inevitably focus on their nuclear weapons program. But it’s also worth remembering that the people of that nation, while generally brainwashed into following their Dear Leader’s madness because of a lack of access to information about the outside world, are suffering. Conditions in North Korea are dire for all but those most closely tied to Kim Jong-un’s regime. We saw a hint of this when we learned that the two soldiers who defected to the South recently were malnourished and infested with worms.

But conditions are even worse for the rank and file citizens out in the countryside. Not only do they have no electricity, plumbing or clean water in most cases, they’re equally in danger of starving. This applies to the farmers as well, who you might think would at least manage to keep food on the table. But, as Brandon Morse at RedState pointed out this week, the farmers can’t even hang on to what they grow. The government has issued orders for the soldiers to come confiscate their food following a particularly poor harvest this past season.

The communist nation of North Korea is so without food that it can’t even feed its troops. Thus North Korean officials have ordered troops to steal the meager scraps of food rural farmers have grown for themselves.

According to DailyNK, this order to raid farms comes weeks after the North Korean military was given a month off to scrounge for food to feed themselves with. The shortage of food is due to a sub-par harvest, and farmers who didn’t deliver the quota given to it by the North Korean government will now find themselves giving up food for their private use.

“We are suffering because collective farms in our region did not have a good harvest last year and so we were unable to fulfill the mandatory quota for military provisions. All individuals who weren’t able to meet the demands have been receiving additional assignments since the very beginning of January,” the anonymous source told the DailyNK.

Kim certainly eats well, as you can tell by any picture of him. But his people are literally starving to death. I’m reminded of an account penned by Christopher Hitchens in his epic book, Love, Poverty and War. He told of shiny cities where nobody lived and peasants who were found lying dead by the road with their mouths full of grass. Because when you become desperate enough and on the edge of death you’ll try to eat almost anything.

It might be the height of irony for Kim’s family to finally achieve their dream of obtaining nuclear weapons and becoming a world power (at least in their own minds), only to see the nation collapse in upon itself because of a massive famine. Could this be part of what’s seemingly bringing Kim to the table at this stage? After all these years of sanctions combined with epic mismanagement, the number of starving peasants may be more than Kim feels he can imprison or otherwise keep under control. If they rise up en masse against him it would be an embarrassing end to a terrible regime. But if he can stop outraging the world long enough to get some of the sanctions lifted and bring in more food he could still save his family’s legacy.

If I could wave a magic wand and drop anything on North Korea right this moment it wouldn’t be bombs. It wouldn’t even be food. It would be cell phones and charging stations and towers to hook all their people up to the internet. If they could see their leader the way the rest of the world does and realize what they are missing out on, Kim would probably be dead and gone within the week.