North Korea: the politics of food aid

The uniquely difficult political climate for international
assistance to North Korea has sometimes distracted from
the fact that people in the country are suffering for lack of
basic essentials, not least food. The government has
reluctantly admitted to the crisis, entering into an uneasy
pact with humanitarian agencies for the first time in modern
history. Evidence suggests that humanitarian assistance over
the past three years “ notably the World Food Programme's
(WFP) largest emergency programme in its history “ has
been of positive benefit to those most vulnerable to
countrywide food deficits. Nevertheless, North Korea
presents an acute dilemma for humanitarians determined to
uphold minimum standards of accountability. The
government has consistently failed to provide adequate
information about, and access to the populations of concern.
The clash of cultural norms and the deep distrust of foreign
intervention does not facilitate the requirements for transparency and donor accountability.