North Korea (MNN) — Korea can't feed its residents. The country simply doesn't have the 5.1 million tons of food needed to feed the population for a year, according to U.N. official Daniele Donati.
In response, the government has called for "100 days of combat."
"These are days when mobilization is controlled very strictly, people can't go from place to place without a permit, and they're expected to work extra hard," said Paul Estabrooks with Open Doors, USA.
On September 17, the government ended a similar period of "150 days of combat." Five days later, they announced the second period of combat.
Estabrooks said this response stems from the country's militant structure and mistrust of any outside aid.
"They're still believing that America wants to wipe them out, so combat is something that they're constantly prepared for. This is kind of normal for a country like North Korea," he said.
However, this approach is a little like making bricks without straw–it does not solve the food crisis and also runs down the malnurished population even more.
Additionally, North Korea's militant approach and "political wrangling with its neighbors," as The Washington Post said, resulted in South Korea ending 500,000 tons of rice and 300,000 tons of fertilizer aid.
Open Doors said, "In the 1990's, millions of North Koreans died because of a severe famine. The current famine is starting to look more and more like the horrible situation just before and after the year 2000."
Like the previous calamity, Christians in the Hwangae province said, "It's normal again to see dead children on the street." Dead of starvation.
On top of the strict regulations concerning working and moving about the country, the government has outlawed Christianity, making the activity of believers and Open Doors' ministry there extremely difficult, Estabrooks said.
Believers are careful about with whom they speak; house churches usually consist only of immediate family and sometimes extended family, because they never know who might overhear them.
Please join the North Korean believers in their prayers.
"They're praying that they will have the ability to stand strong through the pressures they face, and that during this Christmas time they will have the chance to share the message of Jesus," Estabrooks said.
North Korea has ranked number one on Open Doors' annual World Watch List for the past seven years. The list ranks the top 50 countries which are the worst persecutors of believers. The 2010 list will be released on Jan. 6.
To learn more about Christians in North Korea and other parts of the world, or to donate to the work of Open Doors, visit opendoorsusa.org.