Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong Un.

  • North Korea is experiencing food shortages thanks to typhoons and the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Kim Jong Un said the situation was "tense," state media reported.
  • The country is expected to be 1.35M tons short of food this year, one South Korean think tank said.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

Kim Jong Un has warned that North Korea is struggling to maintain food supplies, as reports say prices of everyday goods are skyrocketing.

Speaking at a party meeting Tuesday, Kim said the food situation was "now getting tense" due to grain shortages brought about by typhoons last year, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Wednesday, according to Reuters.

Experts have warned over the last month that food was running short in North Korea.

The Seoul-based NK News outlet reported that price spikes had been seen in Pyongyang, the nation's capital, with 1 kilogram of bananas now costing over R600.

One kilogram is the weight of approximately seven bananas, meaning one banana likely costs just over R90 each.

One group of North Korean farmers were asked to contribute two litres of their own urine each day to help produce fertiliser, Radio Free Asia reported last month.

It is rare for Kim to acknowledge food shortage issues, the BBC and The New York Times reported, and, though food shortages are concerning, experts don't believe they will lead to a country-wide famine, The Washington Post reported.

Earlier this month, Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, told the UN Security Council that it should consider lifting sanctions on the country, Reuters reported.

Ojea Quintana said the Covid-19 pandemic has caused North Korea "drastic economic hardship," and that North Korean trade with China fell 90% in March and April this year.

The country is expected to be 1.35 million tons short of food this year, the Korea Development Institute, a Seoul-based government-run think tank, said earlier this month, as South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported.

North Korea needs around 5.75 million tons of food every year to feed its people, the think tank said, per Yonhap.

The shortages, the agency said, are caused by summer typhoons and flooding, as well as a shortage of farming equipment and the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw North Korea close its land borders.

Despite warning of shortages, Kim said North Korea's economy had "shown improvement as a whole," NK News reported.

An analysis of Kim's media appearances, and length of his watch strap, by NK News showed that Kim appears to have lost weight over the last year.

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