Nearly two-thirds of North Korean children under 10, or some 2.2 million, suffer from growth disorders related to malnutrition and 18,000 of them are so undernourished that their life is at risk, according to a study.
Hwang Na-mi, a researcher at the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs in Seoul, published her findings in the March issue of the journal Health and Welfare Forum on Sunday. She analyzed a nutrition assessment conducted in the North by the UNICEF in cooperation with the North's Central Statistics Bureau in 2004 and 2009.
According to the study, 2.2 million or 61.7 percent of the North's 3.55 million children under 10 were underweight, chronically malnourished with stunted growth, or acutely undernourished with a frail physique. Some numbers overlap.
On life expectancy:
The average life expectancy for North Koreans is 11 years less than that for South Koreans, due to poorer healthcare and nutrition among other reasons, the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs (KIHSA) said Sunday.
In a study titled “Health Disparity between the South and North,” it said the average life expectancy for North Koreans stood at 69.3 years (65.6 years for men and 72.7 years for women) in 2008. In comparison, an average South Korean was estimated to live for 80.1 years (76.5 years for men and 83.3 years for women).
North Korea is about to spend an estimated US$2 billion, or one third of its annual budget, to mark the centenary of nation founder Kim Il-sung on April 15, plus an additional $850 million to build a three-stage rocket and launch pad for the event. The total would be enough to buy 4.75 million tons of rice based on current grain prices at $600 per ton as the regime holds out its hands for international food aid.
These figures are not unrelated.