NoonShadow

An expat's commentary on current events in national security, foreign affairs, the media, culture, technology and assorted trivia.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

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Fat man makes hungry smurfs beg

CNN reported on the Dear Leader's followers aching bellies last month:

The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) said recently it needs 500,000 tonnes of food, worth more than $200 million, to help feed 6.5 million hungry North Koreans this year...

The WPP and the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) say a quarter of North Korea's 23.7 million people will again need outside food aid in 2005...

The secretive state has more than a million men and women under arms -- one of the largest standing armies in the world -- and spends heavily on its weapons program...


If the 'Dear Leader' is the 'Greatest Genius of Mankind' who is an all-around wunderkind at science and the arts and so on, why can't he govern well enough to produce enough food for his people? In South Korea, the problem is the opposite: obesity.

Some 10 to 15 percent of people under 20 are overweight (in South Korea).

According to 2001 figures, 30.6 percent of (South) Korean adults were overweight and 36.2 percent suffered from abdominal obesity. The figure in 2005 will be 2 to 3 percentage points greater than in 2001, medical experts predict.


To make the 'Dear Leader' feel less self-conscious about his diminutive 160 cm (5 feet 3 inch) height, his loyal subjects are shrinking:

The World Food Program and UNICEF reported (in 2003) that chronic malnutrition (in North Korea) had left 42 percent of North Korean children stunted -- meaning their growth was seriously impaired, most likely permanently.


And physical stunting also means intellectual impairment. From the LA Times last year:

South Korean anthropologists who measured North Korean refugees here in Yanji, a city 15 miles from the North Korean border, found that most of the teenage boys stood less than 5 feet tall and weighed less than 100 pounds. In contrast, the average 17-year-old South Korean boy is 5-8, slightly shorter than an American boy of the same age.

The height disparities are stunning because Koreans were more or less the same size -- if anything, people in the North were slightly taller -- until the abrupt partitioning of the country after World War II. South Koreans, feasting on an increasingly Western-influenced diet, have been growing taller as their estranged countrymen have been shrinking through successive famines.
...
“They all looked like dwarfs,” said Kim Dong Kyu, a South Korean academic who has made two trips to North Korea. “When I saw those soldiers, they looked like middle school students. I thought if they had to sling an M-1 rifle over their shoulders, it would drag to the ground.”

To the extent that they ever get to meet South Koreans, the North Koreans are likewise shocked. When two diminutive North Korean soldiers, ages 19 and 23, accidentally drifted into South Korea on a boat, one reportedly was overheard saying they would never be able to marry South Korean women because they were “too big for us,” according to an account in the book “The Two Koreas,” by Don Oberdorfer.

Starting in the mid-1990s, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il (who reportedly wears elevator shoes to enhance his 5-3 height) ordered people to do special exercises designed to make them taller. As a result, it is not uncommon to see students hanging from rings or parallel bars for as long as 30 minutes. Basketball is also promoted as a national sport to instill the yearning for height.

“Grow taller!” instruct banners hung in some schoolyards, defectors and aid workers say. ...

The North Korean military had so much difficulty finding tall enough recruits that it had to revoke its minimum height requirement of 5-3. Many soldiers today are less than 5 feet tall, defectors say...

There is virtually no height difference among adults older than 40, who came of age at a time when the North’s economy was on a par with that of the South. The trouble is most acute with those younger than 20, who were in peak growth years during the mid-1990s, when North Korea experienced a famine that is believed to have killed 2 million people -- 10 percent of the population.


(Emphasis added.)

Kim Jong Il is the only fat man in the entire country.

While 2 million of his countrymen starved, he imported a sushi chef (story here), and an Italian pizza chef (here, here and here), as well as sending people all over the world to procure the specialised ovens and luxury ingredients. That money could have been spent to import food, or fertiliser, or diesel fuel for the idle tractors, or pharmaceuticals...




2 Comments:

At 5:42 PM, Blogger Jay said...

"The North Korean military had so much difficulty finding tall enough recruits that it had to revoke its minimum height requirement of 5-3."

Maybe the people up there were just trying to avoid the draft.

 
At 5:42 PM, Blogger Jay said...

"The North Korean military had so much difficulty finding tall enough recruits that it had to revoke its minimum height requirement of 5-3."

Maybe the people up there were just trying to avoid the draft.

 

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