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You make the mistake of thinking the South Korean economy was as strong as it is today before around 1970. It wasn't. Effectively the country was still an agricultural economy no different from what it had been under Japanese occupation. In the 1960s the South Korean government started massive industrialisation projects, building factories, shipyards, ...


I'm sorry to throw a PhD dissertation at you. But I believe Food shortages and economic institutions in the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea addresses your concerns. From page 168 (179 on the freely viewable pdf). Addresses whether there was a famine using the accounts you have hinted at as well as UN figures, with comparison to official DPRK figures. ...

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