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Pacific Even Army Struggling for Food in North Korea

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by spnadmin, Jun 28, 2011.

  1. spnadmin

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    Images for this story are embedded at the web site.

    TONY EASTLEY: Every now and again the West gets a glimpse of what's really going on in North Korea, and the most recent footage shot over several months, shows images of filthy, homeless and orphaned children begging for food, soldiers demanding bribes, and people forced to build a railway for the dictator's son.

    The ABC has obtained some of the most revealing footage to be smuggled out of the secretive and impoverished North Korean state.

    North Asia correspondent Mark Willacy reports.

    MARK WILLACY: The sun is setting but still they labour - laying railway track near the capital Pyongyang.

    Strolling up to the site supervisor the man with the hidden camera asks what's going on.

    "This rail line is a present from Kim Jong-il to comrade Kim Jong-un," he says.

    These North Koreans are labouring on a private railway track for the dictator's son and heir.

    The well-fed Kim Jong-un could soon be ruling over a nation of starving, impoverished serfs.

    This footage shot by an undercover North Korean journalist using a hidden camera shows young children caked in filth begging in markets, pleading for scraps from compatriots who have nothing to give.

    (North Korean boy speaking)

    "I am eight," says this boy. "My father died and my mother left me. I sleep outdoors," he says.

    Many of these kids are orphans, their parents victims of starvation or the gulag.

    But this footage, obtained by the ABC, shows food in the markets - bags of rice, pork, and corn. These are private markets. The state no longer has any rations to hand out.

    But the state wants its share of this embryonic capitalism.

    (North Korean shouting)

    Here, a party official is demanding that a stallholder make a donation of rice to the army.

    (North Korean shouting)

    "My business is not good," complains the stallholder.

    "Shut up," replies the official. "Don't offer excuses," she says.

    It's clear that the all-powerful army - once quarantined from food shortages and famine - is starting to go hungry.

    (North Korean soldier speaking)

    "Everybody is weak," says this young North Korean soldier. "Within my troop of 100 comrades, half of them are malnourished," he says.

    Jiro Ishimaru is the man who trained the undercover reporter to use the hidden camera.

    (Jiro Ishimaru speaking)

    "This footage is important because it shows that Kim Jong-il's regime is growing weak," he tells me. "It used to put the military first, but now it can't even supply food to its soldiers. Rice is being sold in markets but they are starving. This is the most significant thing in this video," he says.

    Kim Jong-il's grip on power depends on the military and if some of its soldiers have growling, empty bellies that's bad news for the dictator and his hopes for a smooth transition to his son.

    (Jiro Ishimaru speaking)

    "The priority for Kim Jong-il is the succession," says Jiro Ishimaru. "But Kim Jong-un is still very young, just 27 or 28. He doesn't have any experience and hasn't achieved anything. So opposition to a third generation of the Kim family taking over is growing," he says.

    But this dynasty of dictators has proven that it's more than capable of keeping its wretched population in line through gulags, hunger and a total control over every aspect of life.

    But as this footage shows, occasionally a crack of light emerges from this dark, dark place.

    This is Mark Willacy reporting for AM.

    TONY EASTLEY: And Mark Willacy's exclusive report revealing behind the scenes in North Korea can be seen on tonight's TV news and Lateline on ABC 1 and there'll be a link to the video on AM's website later this morning.

    TONY EASTLEY: Every now and again the West gets a glimpse of what's really going on in North Korea, and the most recent footage shot over several months, shows images of filthy, homeless and orphaned children begging for food, soldiers demanding bribes, and people forced to build a railway for the dictator's son.

    The ABC has obtained some of the most revealing footage to be smuggled out of the secretive and impoverished North Korean state.

    North Asia correspondent Mark Willacy reports.

    MARK WILLACY: The sun is setting but still they labour - laying railway track near the capital Pyongyang.

    Strolling up to the site supervisor the man with the hidden camera asks what's going on.

    "This rail line is a present from Kim Jong-il to comrade Kim Jong-un," he says.

    These North Koreans are labouring on a private railway track for the dictator's son and heir.

    The well-fed Kim Jong-un could soon be ruling over a nation of starving, impoverished serfs.

    This footage shot by an undercover North Korean journalist using a hidden camera shows young children caked in filth begging in markets, pleading for scraps from compatriots who have nothing to give.

    (North Korean boy speaking)

    "I am eight," says this boy. "My father died and my mother left me. I sleep outdoors," he says.

    Many of these kids are orphans, their parents victims of starvation or the gulag.

    But this footage, obtained by the ABC, shows food in the markets - bags of rice, pork, and corn. These are private markets. The state no longer has any rations to hand out.

    But the state wants its share of this embryonic capitalism.

    (North Korean shouting)

    Here, a party official is demanding that a stallholder make a donation of rice to the army.

    (North Korean shouting)

    "My business is not good," complains the stallholder.

    "Shut up," replies the official. "Don't offer excuses," she says.

    It's clear that the all-powerful army - once quarantined from food shortages and famine - is starting to go hungry.

    (North Korean soldier speaking)

    "Everybody is weak," says this young North Korean soldier. "Within my troop of 100 comrades, half of them are malnourished," he says.

    Jiro Ishimaru is the man who trained the undercover reporter to use the hidden camera.

    (Jiro Ishimaru speaking)

    "This footage is important because it shows that Kim Jong-il's regime is growing weak," he tells me. "It used to put the military first, but now it can't even supply food to its soldiers. Rice is being sold in markets but they are starving. This is the most significant thing in this video," he says.

    Kim Jong-il's grip on power depends on the military and if some of its soldiers have growling, empty bellies that's bad news for the dictator and his hopes for a smooth transition to his son.

    (Jiro Ishimaru speaking)

    "The priority for Kim Jong-il is the succession," says Jiro Ishimaru. "But Kim Jong-un is still very young, just 27 or 28. He doesn't have any experience and hasn't achieved anything. So opposition to a third generation of the Kim family taking over is growing," he says.

    But this dynasty of dictators has proven that it's more than capable of keeping its wretched population in line through gulags, hunger and a total control over every aspect of life.

    But as this footage shows, occasionally a crack of light emerges from this dark, dark place.

    This is Mark Willacy reporting for AM.

    TONY EASTLEY: And Mark Willacy's exclusive report revealing behind the scenes in North Korea can be seen on tonight's TV news and Lateline on ABC 1 and there'll be a link to the video on AM's website later this morning.
     
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