“At least since 2000 when we began providing assistance to the North, no one there has been starving to death,” Lee said.
— UniFiction Minister Lee Jong-Seok (ht to Richardson)
In sum, although the period of high famine has passed, North Korea continues to experience chronic food shortages that are hitting hard at an underemployed and unemployed urban working class in particular. . . . Moreover, given the political stratification of North Korea and the inability of the WFP to achieve minimum standards of transparency and monitoring in its operations, deserving households–including politically disfavored households–are not getting the food intended for them or are being denied relief altogether.
. . . to say nothing of the 200,000 gulag inmates, or those living in “closed counties,” or those in the overwhelming majority of North Korea where Lee’s predecessors made a sham out of the monitoring process mandated by an international code of conduct — making just 20 pre-noticed monitoring visits in 2005. Most distressingly of all, Haggard and Noland reached their conclusions before the North Koreans kicked out the World Food Program, on which 6.5 million North Koreans had depended for their food.
I think I’m starting to see a pattern with Lee: shameless mendacity. You may recall that Lee was first caught fibbing about a North Korean attempt to censor South Korean news reports that described South Korean abduction victims as abduction victims. Lee came out before the cameras acting like the guardian of the free press, but it turned out that Lee’s ministry had tried to persuade the reporters to soften their language, and had even “expressed regret” to the North Koreans over the incident.
Later, Lee said that “the government does not and cannot suppress North Korean defectors, let alone anyone else,” a claim that plenty of the defectors themselves would dispute, even if it may (or may not) have been true of the particular case of Ma Young-Ae. South Korea has also drawn international criticism for its attempts to censor opposition media.
Lee is obviously a man in need of some volunteer fact-checkers.