North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un expressed concern over the “abnormal climate” conditions devastating his country.
Amid the pandemic, North Korea has been plagued by intense floods and an ongoing food crisis. Last year, typhoons decimated North Korea’s crops, while this year, droughts and monsoon rains consumed the country.
According to state media reports, Kim expressed:
“Disastrous weather is getting ever more pronounced worldwide and our country is also lying vulnerable to its danger.”
Kim later adds the “danger” of climate change has increased in recent years and encouraged his leader officials to take “urgent action.”
Last June, Kim acknowledged North Korea’s food crisis was getting “tense.” The United Nations projected July’s natural disasters decreased North Korea’s food supply by 860,000 tons. The UN also predicts North Korea’s food shortages would worsen from August to October.
According to Seoul’s National Intelligence Service, the totalitarian regime even started distributing its military grain reserves to sustain the population.
The crisis has been exacerbated by the coronavirus epidemic; North Korea closed its borders, which consequently cut off crucial shipments from China.
In light of the pandemic, and despite major food shortages, Kim argued:
“Tightening epidemic prevention is… of paramount importance… restrictions [must] not be loosened even a moment under the present situation.”
However, the dictator’s alleged focus on averting the epidemic has been undermined by his reluctance to accept three million vaccines from the UN.
Last month, heavy rains flooded 1,170 homes in North Korea’s northeast, forcing 5,000 residents to evacuate. Meanwhile, the downpour from South Hamyong Province inundated acres of farmland and destroyed bridges.
Officials were tasked with tackling the nation’s crisis by implementing preventative measures. Plans include “river improvement, afforestation for erosion control, dike maintenance and tide embankment projects.”
According to Skynews, North Korea forces its citizens to participate in public projects— particularly students, soldiers, and prisoners. The government claims these projects are volunteer-led; however, as Skynews explains, work refusal could be punished by torture or a prison sentence.
North Korea can be added to the list of victims affected by climate change. Countries in Western Europe have also been afflicted by floods, while wildfires are still spreading across Turkey.
In response, Vox explained government action–not just individual sacrifice– is imperative to meaningfully fight against the climate crisis.