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The state has been crippled by economic US and UN sanctions, imposed to deprive Kim Jong-un of money needed to build North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes. The coronavirus pandemic has delivered an additional economic shock to the country, with the border with China was closed to stop the spread of the virus. Despite the coronavirus pandemic affecting supply chains across the world, a secret operation run overnight has seen China delivered supplies to the state, according to Radio Free Asia (RFA).
According to terrified dockworkers, supplies falsely labelled as construction materials have been delivered to the North Korean city of Dandong, 100 miles from the capital of Pyongyang.
Although they have been labelled as construction materials, rice and corn were placed on the ships in the Chinese border city of Dandong before being sent south.
A source, who was too scared to use his real name, told RFA: “These days, they are loading shipments of food here in Dandong port every night.
“These ships used to carry emergency supplies and construction materials to North Korea, but now they are being used to transport food.
“This food is being exported by a certain Chinese trading company which has a dry materials contract with a state-run trading agency in North Korea.
“The company pays 200 yuan [£22.62] per day to each labourer loading the ships.
“But it’s all done in secret so no one can figure out how much food is being shipped, and if North Korea is paying for imported food or if the Chinese government is providing it for free.
“The trading company keeps it all a secret by saying that the cargo heading to North Korea is construction materials, not food.”
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International sanctions do not prohibit humanitarian assistance.
Most donors usually provide aid through UN agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations subject to monitoring.
Due to the UN sanctions, North Korean ships cannot sail into Dandong to retrieve food and must instead pay a rate for the Chinese company to deliver the food.
North Korea has struggled with chronic food shortages for decades which has been exacerbated due to a recent drought in the country.
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According to estimates from the South Korean Unification Ministry, the country will only produce 4.64 million out of the 5.5 million tons of grain needed to feed the nation.
The delivery of supplies comes as relations with South Korea have hit a crisis point over the last week.
North Korea attacked the joint liaison office in the border city of Kaesong.
In the wake of the attack, Kim had threatened to take further military action against the South.
There had also been a threat to occupy the demilitarised zone and to cut off ties with South Korea.
Despite the rising tensions, Kim has decided not to take further military action according to state media.
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