North Korea Today No. 396

News and Press Release
Originally published


In Ryanggang Province, Farmers Live off Frozen Potatoes

Farmers in Ryanggang Province are living off frozen potatoes as their daily sustenance. The potatoes could not be harvested on time due to last year’s floods, and this resulted in the potatoes freezing up in the fields. Provincial research shows that many households have barely had even corn since February, implying that the food shortage this year is much more severe than in previous years. Ryanggang Province was even excluded from the nationwide military provisions remittance obligation, which was resumed in January, indicating the severity of the food crisis is. Affluent groups like government officials and farm managers are slightly better off, for they at least eat rice mixed with corn. However, the difficulty of the situation is Ryanggang Province is still evident when compared to other provinces, where the government officers are able to eat white rice.
Freezing is one way to preserve potatoes to be eaten as a staple food, besides steaming and converting to potato starch. The outer skin turns black, but it is not bad to eat once it is steamed. Even rotten potatoes are not thrown away because they can be made into potato starch. Residents of Ryanggang Province often say, “Frozen or rotten, we eat it all… Never do we throw away a potato.” Making starch from rotten potatoes, however, cannot be done even in large cities like Pyongyang and Pyungsung, for it is a complicated process, requiring large quantities of water.