North Korea is reportedly on "the brink of famine" with fears millions will starve to death.
Experts say the rogue state hasn't produced enough food to feed its 26 million inhabitants after the Covid pandemic and a string of typhoons and floods have left it short of more than 1.2 million tonnes of grain.
Tyrant Kim Jong-un has warned of an "Arduous March" – a term used to describe the four-year famine that claimed 3.5 million North Korean lives in the 90s.
The Telegraph reported the hermit nation's main agricultural regions were decimated by bad weather again last year.
Also blamed was the government's decision to close its border with China to stop the spread of Covid-19.
This was said to have prevented imports of food, fertilisers, and parts for farm machinery.
The Korea Development Institute think tank said: "North Korea has been identified as experiencing a food crisis, with many households experiencing undernourishment or minimal levels of nutrition.
"People's basic household assets are being sold off to procure food. This is not sustainable and action needs to be taken immediately."
The report estimated that North Korea produced just under four million tons of grain last year.
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It needs an estimated 5.2 million tonnes needed to sustain a population of 26 million.
Young-chae Song, from the Worldwide Coalition to Stop Genocide in North Korea, said: "We are hearing through our contacts that people there are suffering and dying."
The UN's World Food Programme has previously estimated that more than 40% of the population were already undernourished before the nation's borders were closed.
In April, Kim Jong-un called for another “arduous march” as he compared his country's economic woes to the devastating famine in the 1990s for the first time.
Kim previously said his country faces the “worst-ever” situation due to factors including the coronavirus pandemic.
He also blamed US-led sanctions and natural disasters.
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Foreign observers said the dire situation was the biggest test of his nine-year rule.
The Korean Central News Agency reported that he told the lower-level ruling party members: “There are many obstacles and difficulties ahead of us, and so our struggle for carrying out the decisions of the Eighth Party Congress would not be all plain sailing.
“I made up my mind to ask the WPK (Workers’ Party of Korea) organisations at all levels, including its Central Committee and the cell secretaries of the entire party, to wage another more difficult ‘arduous march’ in order to relieve our people of the difficulty, even a little."
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