North Korea’s economy may be so ineptly run that famine strikes every few years, but at least children under the age of 10 are getting two pounds of treats this year. That’s the gift from the North Korean leader as his country celebrates his birthday on January 8. Traditionally, the birthdays of North Korea’s leaders are times when food and other gifts are provided.
Providing two pounds of candy and other treats to the 3.5 million children is more of a cruel joke than a kind gesture. Candy is nothing more than a source of energy, devoid of any significant nutritional value. The gifts came in vinyl packets that also contained caramel, gum and crackers. About the only thing of nutritional value are the crackers but that’s not much to take notice of either. Of course, the malnourished and stunted North Korean kids can use the calories and change in diet from their usual rice, beans, peas, sprouts and occasional seafood.
North Korea announced the “generous” offer a day before Kim’s birthday by providing the candy to schools and day care centers.
A radio report by the North Korean Central Broadcasting Station, monitored in Seoul on Monday, said Kim had mobilised aircraft to ensure that each child in the country aged 10 or under received the candy gift in time.
Villagers in outlying islands “exploded with joy” at the confectionery airlift, the report said.
Aircraft were used because of a cold snap blocking the sea lanes. That joy probably came because many of these kids don’t get a full belly for days at a time.
A 2006 Amnesty International report “found that 7% of children were severely malnourished; 37% were chronically malnourished; 23.4% were underweight; and one in three mothers was malnourished and anemic.”
North Korea claims that Kim provided the candy because of his “paternal love” for the children. Yet when children are in desperate need of a square meal, they instead get a handful of sugary treats.
It would be nice to find something uplifting in a North Korean story, but this is just another cheap trick to brainwash young kids into being grateful for the world’s most repressive government. I bet the gum doesn’t even have a decent flavor.