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The death of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il will shine a spotlight on a country which suffers from widespread food shortages and chronic malnutrition.
Photo: Children photographed in an orphanage in North Korea during the 1997 famine. The photo was taken by Justin Kilcullen, Trócaire’s director and later that year it was chosen by Newsweek as one of its Pictures of the Year.
Freezing conditions last winter, combined with floods over the summer, are believed to have severely damaged North Korea’s food stocks. In March, the World Food Programme estimated that six million North Koreans needed food aid and a third of children were chronically malnourished or stunted.
North Korea experienced a devastating famine in the late 1990s, which killed up to two million people. Through our links with Caritas Hong Kong, Trócaire was one of the few Western aid agencies with access to North Korea. A Trócaire appeal for North Korea raised £4m from the Irish public, money which was used to get food relief to the worst affected regions.
Trócaire Director, Justin Kilcullen, visited North Korea in 1997 as part of the famine relief programme. During his visit, Justin took the above photograph at an orphanage, illustrating the situation facing the people of North Korea.
The photograph was one of the first images to emerge from North Korea at that time, bringing the world’s attention to what was happening there. The image was printed in Newsweek magazine and was chosen by that publication as one of their Photographs of the Year.