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North Korea Trades Shells for Expired Russian Flour 

North Korea gave Russia ammunition in exchange for food, leaving people unhappy when outdated flour arrived, said a North Korean defector on December 15.



Russia sent bags of expired flour for distribution in North Korea. (Provided by Kim Seong-young)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been accelerating Moscow's rapprochement with Pyongyang. In September, the Russian leader and Workers' Party of Korea General Secretary Kim Jong Un met for the 2023 North Korea-Russia Summit. 

In one outcome, Russia supplied North Korea with flour in exchange for artillery shells needed for its invasion of Ukraine. On December 15, however, photographic evidence surfaced that the flour Russia sent was past its expiration date. 

Kim Seong Min explains the situation in North Korea to lawmakers and publc participants in the December 15 seminar at the House of Councillors office building. (©JAPAN Forward)

Unloaded at a North Korean Port

Kim Seong Min, the founder of Free North Korea Radio station (FNKR), was the one who obtained the photo. FNKR is a shortwave radio station based in Seoul. It broadcasts to North Korea and informs residents of the dark reality of their country. 

The same day, the National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea, NARKN, held an international seminar in Tokyo. This seminar was titled "Considering the Latest Developments in North Korea and How to Repatriate Victims." Kim introduced the photo at the seminar during his lecture on the current situation in North Korea.  

The photo came from inside North Korea, according to Kim Seong Min. It shows a closeup of two bags of Russian flour weighing 2 kg each. They were from a shipment of 100,000 tons of flour unloaded at the port of Chongjin in northeastern North Korea. Although the expiration date was May 5, 2022, markets throughout North Korea still sold the rotten flour. It is likely that the flour was Russian leftovers, according to reports Kim received. 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met Russia's President Vladimir Putin in the Amur Oblast of Russia's Far East Region on September 13, 2023 . (©KCNA via REUTERS)

Not What North Koreans Expected

Following improved Russo-North Korean relations, Russia reportedly agreed to send a massive amount of food aid to North Korea. North Koreans expected over 300,000 tons' worth. Rumors have been circulating in North Korea since 2022 that this would lead to the resumption of the food rationing system. However, these hopes never came to fruition. 

"Kim Jong Un's visit to Russia focused on national defense," said Kim Seong Min. He elaborated, "They discussed the transfer of multi-purpose fighter jets and military reconnaissance satellite technology. North Koreans who had hoped for economic aid such as Russian flour are becoming increasingly disappointed."


(Read the report in Japanese.)

Author: The Sankei Shimbun


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