27 Jun 2011

Secret video reveals underfed soldiers and starving children

9:35 pm on 27 June 2011

Footage shot inside North Korea has revealed chronic food shortages and malnutrition inside the secretive state.

It was filmed over several months by an undercover North Korean journalist, and shows homeless and orphaned children begging for food, and soldiers demanding bribes.

Many of the children's parents were victims of starvation or the gulag.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which has obtained the footage, says it also shows North Koreans labouring on a private railway track for the dictator's son and his heir near the capital, Pyongyang.

The man with the hidden camera asks the supervisor what is going on.

"This rail line is a present from Kim Jong-il to comrade Kim Jong-un," he is told.

The video shows young children caked in filth begging in markets, pleading for scraps from compatriots who have nothing to give.

"I am eight," says one boy. "My father died and my mother left me. I sleep outdoors."

Many of the children are orphans; their parents victims of starvation or the gulag.

But markets do exist - private markets that stock bags of rice, pork, and corn. The state no longer has any rations to hand out.

It is clear from the video that the all-powerful army - once quarantined from food shortages and famine - is starting to go hungry.

"Everybody is weak," says one young North Korean soldier. "Within my troop of 100 comrades, half of them are malnourished," he said.