Connect to share and comment

A guide to the dynamic economics, politics, and culture of the world's most populous region.

Rare video footage smuggled out of North Korea

Soldiers, who used to be immune from famine, now say they too are going hungry.
Korea tv kim jong un 2011 06 27Enlarge
A South Korean man watches a TV newscast reporting the visit to China by North Korea's Kim Jong Un on May 20, 2011. (Jung Yeon-je/AFP/Getty Images)

Newly released footage shot over several months by an undercover North Korean journalist suggests that Kim Jong Il's iron fist is weakening.

There are some images we might expect to see in a reclusive state known to be experiencing a famine — children caked in dirt begging for food from people who have nothing to give.

But the video also sheds new light on how severe the food shortage is.

For the first time, it seems, the all-powerful army, which used to be immune from famine, is also going hungry, reports the Australian Broadcasting Corp, which obtained the exclusive footage this week after it was smuggled out to China.

"Everybody is weak," says one young North Korean soldier in the video. "Within my troop of 100 comrades, half of them are malnourished," he said. The state no longer has the rice rations to give them.

(Another recent report told of a leaked official document out of North Korea chronicling at least five instances of cannibalism.)

Kim's grip on power depends on the military. And a military full of soldiers with empty bellies is a recipe for discontent.

Watch for yourself:

The video also shows North Koreans working on a private railway for the dictator's son and heir apparent, Kim Jong Un.

See photos of everyday life in the capital, Pyongyang. The government allowed these to be taken, though, so they're not nearly as telling of harsh city life.

And should countries give aid to North Korea? You might think it's a no-brainer. Think again.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/the-rice-bowl/video-north-korea-kim-jong-il-starvation-military

.

Featured Slideshow

Please select a gallery.

Please select a gallery.