TACOMA, Washington — North Korea remains one of the most secretive and isolated countries in the world. Due to this secrecy, it is hard to determine exactly where the country stands, but experts have managed to conclude that due to the severe repression in North Korea, its economy is the lowest in the world. Many North Koreans suffer from food shortages and a lack of medical assistance. To help the many impoverished citizens of North Korea, the bill H.R.7218: Enhancing North Korea Humanitarian Assistance Act was developed and introduced to the House of Representatives on June 15, 2020. The bill’s proposals will offer humanitarian aid to impoverished communities in North Korea, saving lives and improving their quality of life in the process.
Healthcare System in North Korea
The people of North Korea suffer from a substantial lack of adequate healthcare. While North Korea claims to have the best medical service there is to offer, that is far from the truth. The county reportedly spends less on medical services than any other country in the world, and it would equate to less than $1 per person. If the Enhancing North Korea Humanitarian Assistance Act were to be passed then international humanitarian organizations can provide great medical assistance to North Koreans.
According to defectors from North Korea, the hospitals are in desperate shape. Hospitals lack electricity and heating, leaving doctors to use flashlights in extreme measures. Doctors are also reported to be unqualified for the job and bills from the hospital leave patients in crippling debt. Intervention from U.S. hospitals can improve conditions and prevent doctors from working in poor working conditions. The intervention can also pave the way for more qualified doctors and lessen debt for disadvantaged patients.
Food Shortages in North Korea
Food shortages are not new to North Koreans. In the 1990s, North Korea experienced a significant famine that killed approximately 2.5 million to 3.5 million people. Researchers expect the country will soon face another famine in the upcoming months or years. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reported that 10.1 million North Koreans are facing extreme food shortages. Due to extreme weather conditions, such as heatwaves and floods, this food shortage is the worst North Korea has seen in 10 years.
North Korea defectors have shared their stories of being forced to rely on grass and other wild food such as tree bark to avoid starvation. Support from the U.S. with the Enhancing North Korea Humanitarian Assistance Act can help make a significant turnaround for North Koreans. Currently, China is North Korea’s largest source of food aid. With the combination of China and the United States, North Koreans can be seeing a surge of food available for them.
Status of the Bill
The Enhancing North Korea Humanitarian Assistance Act is sponsored by Representative Levin Andy of Michigan and was designed to focalize humanitarian aid to North Koreans. With the bill, quality medical and food aid would be provided to North Korea that has the potential to save thousands of lives. The bill has so far has been referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Financial Services. However, further action is expected. Many North Koreans are forced to succumb to the poor living conditions and with the Enhancing North Korea Humanitarian Assistance Act, the United States can help improve their living standards.