Monday, October 03, 2005

North Korea To Ration Its Food After Turning Away Foreign Aid

North Korea plans to resume full-scale food rationing across the impoverished communist country after ending grain sales, a U.N. relief agency said. ''As of Oct. 1, reports are that cereal sales in the markets will cease and public distribution centers will take over countrywide distribution,'' the World Food Program said in a Friday-dated report. North Korea significantly scaled back its food-rationing system in July 2002 while introducing an economic reform program that increased wages. The reform measures failed, however, as inflation soared amid shortages of food and other goods. The isolated country has relied on outside handouts to feed its people after natural disasters and mismanagement caused its economy to collapse in the mid-1990s. Famine has killed an estimated 2 million people. Last month, however, North Korea asked international aid groups to stop all emergency humanitarian aid by year's end, saying it had enough food from other sources, including South Korea.