News out of North Korean is notoriously unreliable, but food shortages in the country have gotten so bad and people so desperate that there are now reports of men murdering their own children for food. These startling reports were compiled by independent reporters commissioned by Asia Press, a independent press agency focusing on Asia, and were published by the Sunday Times. And here's one of the most disturbing thing you'll read this morning:
The source said: "While his wife was away on business he killed his eldest daughter and, because his son saw what he had done, he killed his son as well. When the wife came home, he offered her food, saying: 'We have meat.'
"But his wife, suspicious, notified the Ministry of Public Security, which led to the discovery of part of their children's bodies under the eaves."
And another from Gu Gwang-ho, one of the Asia Press's citizen journalists said:
"There was an incident when a man was arrested for digging up the grave of his grandchild and eating the remains."
The big question here is whether this is all true or new urban legends. Considering this is North Korea and taking into account the country's propensity to keep secrets and publish propaganda pieces—we'll likely never get real confirmation from their end. But Asia Press has worked with citizen reporters in the famine-struck regions of North and South Hwanghae for the past year, and The Independent considers their reports credible.
Sadly, this isn't the first time we've heard reports of cannibalism from North Korea. Back in 2003, during another food shortage there were refugee accounts that people in the country began killing and eating their children and then selling their children's corpses. The Telegraph's Mark Nicol reported at the time:
Aid agencies are alarmed by refugees' reports that children have been killed and corpses cut up by people desperate for food. Requests by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to be allowed access to "farmers' markets", where human meat is said to be traded, have been turned down by Pyongyang, citing "security reasons".
And then there's the fact that we know North Korea was devastated by storms and flooding in the summer of 2012. You can't hide a tropical cyclone. Things there have gotten so desperate, that the country almost accepted South Korean aid this September, which is a big deal considering the rocky relationship between the two countries and the North's fierce pride of independence. Reports of previous famines have been well documented and Asia Press claims that as many as 10,000 people may have died because of the "Hidden Famine" this year.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.