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The Democratic People's Republic of Hunger

By Zachary Schubert and Maura Kelly

Along North Korea's border with China, among the quietest in the world, there is one export that has remained strong. In the last few years, thousands of North Korean's have fled to China to settle in refugee enclaves. On average, they are 5 inches shorter and weigh 25 pounds less than their cousins in South Korea. This is the consequence of a nation that routinely fails to provide enough food to nourish its people. This week, RUTV will explore the social catastrophe that is hidden by the North Korean government and obscured by its nuclear weapons program.

the heart of North Korea's cancerous political body is Great Leader Kim Il-sung's Juche ideology. For its entire history, North Korea has sought extensive trade only with China and the Soviet Union. When preferential trade between North Korea and its communist neighbors broke down in the early 1990s, the country fell into an economic crisis that sparked a several-year-long famine. Food shortages were exaggerated by a series of natural disasters, such as a flood that destroyed 40% of arable land in 1995. According to a survey carried out quietly by the North Korean government, the population fell by 2.5 to 3 million between 1995 and 1998.

Malnutrition continues to run rampant. According to Vitit Muntarbhorn, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, food shortfall will probably exceed one and a half million tons this year. This is the greatest deficit since the famine of the 1990s.

For those desperate enough to seek refuge across the border, the Chinese government refuses to grant political asylum. A large number of them are women sold by their families to Chinese husbands. They and their children live in legal limbo, unable to apply for Chinese citizenship. In some cases, children may be registered only upon proof that their Korean mother has been deported.

When they are caught, repatriation often means time in prison or a labor camp. Inmates face starvation and torture, including being hung by the wrists and confinement in inhumanely small cells.

Our social innovator this week is LiNK, a group founded to advance human rights in North Korea. They work with governments, NGOs and other institutions to promote the civil rights of North Korean citizens and refugees. In addition, they maintain a network of shelters to help refugees escape to countries where they are able to seek asylum. LiNK's vice president Justin Wheeler will be joining us to talk about the organization.

We will also be speaking to our Europe correspondent Tove Gerhardsen. She met recently with a Danish journalist and filmmaker who went undercover to North Korea with two Danish comedians as a fake theater troupe. Their aim was to document the North Korean regime as they negotiated to produce a play. The result was Red Chapel, a TV series and now documentary film that has been sold to many countries in Europe.

We are departing from our regular schedule this week, and will be going live on Friday at 6:00 EST. Watch the show and join the chat at www.reportersuncensored.com.