North Korea’s Kim visits typhoon-hit farmlands amid food shortage concerns

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has inspected typhoon-hit farmlands, state media said on Friday, after tropical storm Khanun swept over the Korean Peninsula last week amid mounting concerns over a food crisis in the reclusive country.

Kim praised the military’s efforts to salvage crops and said the troops were mobilised because they cannot lose a patch of farmland “to the natural rampage on the agricultural front directly related with the people’s living,” news agency KCNA reported.

The North has suffered serious food shortages in recent decades, including famine in the 1990s, often as a result of natural disasters. International experts have warned that border closures during the COVID-19 pandemic worsened matters.

“He made sure that helicopters and light transport aircrafts of air force units … were mobilised as a step to improve the growth of crops in flooded fields, and personally organised and commanded the work for spraying pesticides,” the report said.

Khanun, which was downgraded from a typhoon to a tropical storm, made landfall on the Korean peninsula last week, prompting South Korean authorities to evacuate more than 14,000 people and close schools in flood-hit areas.

(Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi; Editing by Stephen Coates)