Starving North Koreans are facing a miserable winter following a poor harvest, experts have warned.
The secretive state, which is already facing food shortages, has had a poor crop as a result of drought followed by widespread flooding.
Crop analysts from monitoring group Geoglam, using satellite images, say this year’s harvest is the smallest in five years, with the so-called “cereal bowl” in the south of the country badly hit.
Despite 70% of North Koreans being reliant on rations, which were cut in May, dictator Kim Jong-un continues to plough resources into his nuclear weapons programme.
World leaders have placed sanctions on North Korea as a result.
In August an expert on North Korea warned that Kim could become more volatile during food shortages at the end of the year.
Professor Srinivasan Sitaraman told Mirror Online: “It’s when the winter arrives that trouble will arrive.
“There will be food shortages, and that’s when North Koreans are going to feel the pinch from the sanctions.”
The UN has said crop production is at its lowest level in five years, and four out of 10 North Koreans require food aid.
Two months ago the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned that 10 million people are in urgent need of help.
And the World Food Programme says the population eats dangerously little protein.
In May food rations were cut from 550g to 300g, and this has been made worse after Typhoon Lingling flooded farmland, following months of severe droughts.
Geoglam said the harvest from South and North Hwanghae and South Pyongyan in the south was below average.
At the end of last month North Korea fired two projectiles into the Sea of Japan in what appears to be its latest ballistic missile launch days after a warning to the US.
Kim oversaw the launch, which saw the missiles fly for 230 miles at an altitude of 56 miles, according to Seoul’s military.
An air base used by Japan and the US issued a “real world missile alert” and told personnel to “seek shelter”. Ships in the Sea of Japan were also warned.
The US has demanded North Korea abandons its nuclear programme, but Kim has shown little desire to fall into line, despite the suffering of the population.