PYONGYANG, KOREA — Dry spells, heatwaves and flooding have wreaked havoc on crop conditions in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, leaving approximately 10.1 million suffering from severe food shortages, according to a United Nations food security assessment.

According to the UN report, aggregate 2018-19 food crop production in Korea is estimated at 4.9 million tonnes, which, if realized, would be the lowest total since the 2008-09 season.

The findings arose out of missions led by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme.

“Many families survive on a monotonous diet of rice and kimchi most of the year, eating very little protein,” said Nicolas Bidault, co-lead of the mission and WFP senior regional vulnerability analysis and mapping adviser. “This is worrying because many communities are already extremely vulnerable and any further cuts to already minimal food rations, could push them deep into a hunger crisis.”

Mario Zappacosta, senior economist at the FAO and co-lead of the mission, said the agencies are concerned about this year’s wheat, barley and potato crops, which play a vital role in meeting household food needs.

“Our assessment shows that reduced rains and lack of snow cover during winter, which left crops exposed to freezing temperatures, cut production by about 20%,” Zappacosta said.

The assessment recommended a series of actions to bolster agricultural production, including importing vegetable seed and upgrading grain-drying equipment, threshing machines and storage facilities.

The full assessment is available here.