Kim Jong Un warns that North Korea is running out of food as reports say a bunch of bananas now costs $45

Kim jong un
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a party meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea, in an undated photo released Wednesday by state media. KCNA via Reuters
  • North Korea is experiencing food shortages thanks to typhoons and the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Kim Jong Un said the situation was “tense,” state media reported.
  • A South Korean think tank said the country was expected to be short over a million tons of food.
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Kim Jong Un has warned that North Korea is struggling to maintain food supplies, as reports say prices of everyday goods are skyrocketing.

Speaking at a party meeting Tuesday, Kim said the food situation was “now getting tense” because of grain shortages brought about by typhoons last year, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported Wednesday, according to Reuters.

Experts have warned over the past month that food was running short in North Korea.

The Seoul, South Korea-based outlet NK News reported that price spikes had been seen in Pyongyang, the nation’s capital, with a kilogram of bananas now costing $45.

One kilogram, or 1kg, is the weight of approximately seven bananas, meaning each banana most likely costs just over $6.40.

Some North Korean farmers were asked to contribute 2 liters of their urine each day to help produce fertilizer, Radio Free Asia reported last month.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a table with senior officials.
Kim meeting with senior officials in Pyongyang in an undated photo released June 8 by North Korean state media. KCNA/via REUTERS

It is rare for Kim to acknowledge food shortages, the BBC and The New York Times reported, and, though such shortages are concerning, experts don’t believe they will lead to a country-wide famine, The Washington Post reported.

Earlier this month, Tomás Ojea Quintana, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, told the UN Security Council that it should consider lifting sanctions on the country, Reuters reported.

Ojea Quintana said that the COVID-19 pandemic had caused North Korea “drastic economic hardship” and that North Korean trade with China fell 90% in March and April.

The country is expected to be 1.35 million tons short of food this year, the Korea Development Institute, a Seoul-based government-run think tank, said earlier this month, as South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported.

North Korea needs about 5.75 million tons of food every year to feed its people, the think tank said, per Yonhap.

The shortages, the agency said, are caused by summer typhoons and flooding, as well as a shortage of farming equipment and the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw North Korea close its land borders.

Despite warning of shortages, Kim said North Korea’s economy had “shown improvement as a whole,” NK News reported.

An analysis of Kim’s media appearances, and length of his watch strap, by NK News showed that Kim appeared to have lost weight over the past year.