As the Marmot has previously reported and as Barbara Demick describes in greater detail the North Koreans are about 8 inches shorter than South Koreans (same article here) due to the sustained food shortages and famine in North Korea.
South Korean anthropologists who measured North Korean refugees here in Yanji, a city 15 miles from the North Korean border, found that most of the teenage boys stood less than 5 feet tall and weighed less than 100 pounds. In contrast, the average 17-year-old South Korean boy is 5-feet-8, slightly shorter than an American boy of the same age.
North Koreans are shocked when they find out that South Koreans are so much taller. Imagine what the impact would be North Koreans if they all knew just much much shorter they are than the South Koreans.
To the extent that they ever get to meet South Koreans, the North Koreans are likewise shocked. When two diminutive North Korean soldiers, ages 19 and 23, accidentally drifted into South Korea on a boat, one reportedly was overheard saying they would never be able to marry South Korean women because they were "too big for us," according to an account in the book "The Two Koreas," by Don Oberdorfer.
The United States government ought to be making a very large effort to break through the information monopoly the North Korean government has over the North Korean people by smuggling in radios, books, and other material. The chief goal of such an operation should be to cause the North Koreans to learn just how much worse off they are than South Korea, Japan, and the United States. A secular ideology is disprovable by empirical evidence. North Korea's regime is far more vulnerable to undermining by outside influences than is a regime based on a widely believed religion. Religions based on beliefs about the supernatural are as easily disproven or discredited in the eyes of their believers and so theocratic regimes in religious nations are harder to undermine.
South Koreans fear reunification with the North in part because they fear the Northerners suffer from lower IQs due to sustained hunger and malnutrition.
The issue of IQ is sufficiently sensitive that the South Korean anthropologists studying refugee children in China have almost entirely avoided mentioning it in their published work. But they say it is a major unspoken worry for South Koreans, who fear that they could inherit the burden of a seriously impaired generation if Korea is reunified.
"This is our nightmare," anthropologist Chung said. "We don't want to get into racial stereotyping or stigmatize North Koreans in any way. But we also worry about what happens if we are living together and we have this generation that was not well-fed and well-educated."
About 500 North Korean children have come to South Korea, either alone or with their parents, and they are known to have difficulty keeping up in the school system, say people who work with defectors.
BEIJING, Feb. 13 -- A severe food shortage has crippled the U.N. feeding program that sustains North Korea's most vulnerable and undernourished people, according to Masood Hyder, the U.N. humanitarian aid coordinator and World Food Program representative in Pyongyang.
He said his organization can now feed fewer than 100,000 of the 6.5 million people it normally does, many of them kindergarten-age children and pregnant women who cannot get what they need to stay healthy from the country's distribution system.
Undermining the North Korean regime ought to be a major US foreign policy goal. That the Bush Administration is not trying very hard to reach the people of North Korea is a major continuing US foreign policy mistake.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2004 March 02 02:41 AM Korea|