UN warns of North Korea food crisis
Millions of North Koreans face starvation in the coming winter months unless new sources of food aid are urgently found, the United Nations' food agency has warned, reproted Aljazeera.
A report from the World Food Programme released this week said around 2.7 million people on the west coast of the country face serious food shortages due to the continuing effects from devastating floods in 2007.
North Korea has been reliant on foreign food aid for several years, but on Thursday South Korea - until recently a major donor to the North - said it had not yet decided whether to respond to a WFP request for further aid.
The WFP first asked South Korea in August to provide emergency aid to help avert a food crisis, but Seoul has not yet replied.
South Korea has taken a tougher line on relations with the North since the election of conservative Lee Myung-bak as president late last year.
Although the government has said it will not tie aid to progress on North Korea's nuclear disarmament, it has also said public opinion in the South would play a consideration in deciding whether to send aid.
Public sentiment in the South has worsened considerably following the July shooting death of a South Korean tourist at a North Korean mountain resort.
Up to two million North Koreans are thought to have died in a famine in the late 1990s after a combination of mismanagement and natural disasters devastated the country's centrally-planned economy.
In its report the WFP said higher food prices, reductions in public food rations and lower employment had made the impact of the shortages particularly severe for urban households in areas with low industrial activity.