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North Korea has suffered deadly famines in the past and now its leader, Kim Jong-un, has warned of severe food shortages ahead. It’s very difficult to get reliable information out of the highly secretive country. So what do we know about the food situation, and why might it be so bad this year? One of the clearest indicators of shortages is a rise in the price of basic foods. The price for a kilo of corn (maize) rose sharply in February to 3,137 won (equivalent to about £2), according to data from the Daily NK website, which gathers information from contacts within North Korea. Prices rose sharply again in mid-June, according to the Asia Press website, which communicates with North Koreans on phones smuggled into the country. Corn is a less preferred staple than rice, but is often consumed because it’s cheaper.

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