With new sanctions from the UN and the U.S. seen as being stricter than ever, there is growing support for North Korea’s claim that those measures will adversely affect North Koreans, perhaps to the point of causing children to starve to death. That is an interesting position to take, given that governments in general, particularly regimes such as Pyongyang’s, are usually the ones held accountable for the well-being of their own citizens.
Pyongyang has a history going back as far as 2004 of leasing out fishing grounds to China in exchange for cash, earning roughly USD$75 million a year by doing so. China is allowed to reap the bounty of North Korea’s waters that ought to be harvested for the benefit of Pyongyang’s own citizens – that seafood ought not be auctioned off for cash to fund missiles and nukes.
A recent estimate by the South Korean Ministry of National Defense (MND) places the cost of the North Korean missile and nuclear weapons development programs at close to USD$3 billion. When considering all of North Korea’s defense spending, the total rises to between 7 billion and 10 billion.
It is still well within Pyongyang’s means to provide an adequate supply of rice for its citizens
The extravagances of Kim Jong Un’s penthouse lifestyle and the quantities of luxury goods he imports each year to purchase the loyalty of the regime’s elites are truly staggering.
Although it is impossible to tally precisely the total of Kim’s lavish living, the spending on luxury goods has been estimated to be USD$645 million each year. As for Kim’s personal perks, he chooses between more than a dozen palatial residences, has built himself a cinematic theater with seating for a thousand, his automobiles are Mercedes-Benz machines, and his personal yacht is valued at USD$6 million.
When one considers that the cost of rice is not quite $3 per pound (approaching $7 per kilogram) in North Korea, it becomes abundantly clear that – even at these inflated prices – it is still well within Pyongyang’s means to provide an adequate supply of rice for its citizens. It is merely a matter of choice that the regime does not do so.
Now, the new South Korean administration is considering a number of giveaways to North Korea. One is USD$6 million to fund a census of North Korea, a governmental responsibility that belongs to Pyongyang, not Seoul. Additionally, the Moon government recently approved about USD$8 million worth of humanitarian aid to North Korea.
Money is fungible – funds in any form provided to North Korea free up scarce cash for missiles and nukes. Even when goods in kind such as food and medicines are given, they either (1) supplant resources which are then often directed to the regime’s favored elites or the military or (2) those donations go straight to Pyongyang’s preferred recipients.
Tensions on the peninsula are high, and given the direction in which we are headed, some form of conflict could well be on the horizon. For Seoul to be authorizing aid to Pyongyang in the current political climate is irresponsible.
There is a saying that distills the issue to its core: “With capitalism, bread waits for people; with communism, people wait for bread.” Of course, it is rice over bread in Korea, but the point nonetheless remains.
Interestingly, the cost of rice in the so-called Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is about four times what it is in the United States. We need to focus the blame on the party responsible for any starvation and malnutrition in North Korea: this one’s on you, Kim Jong Un.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Join the influential community of members who rely on NK News original news and in-depth reporting.
Subscribe to read the remaining 614 words of this article.