What is the evidence for North Korea famine in 1990s?

The most accounts about the famine in the Internet comes with references to US congress members who visited N. Korea, defectors or closed/unpublished estimations.

Is there any solid evidence about the famine(s) in North Korea in the 1990s?

Current life expectancy in North Korea at 68.39 is higher than in Russia and Ukraine, although lower than in the 1990s.

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    @NathanCooper: Oh yes, there is that as well but since it asks (in its original form) for references there are plenty you can follow from a simple Google search. In my opinion, the question shows a basic lack of prior research. If the question were to be re-formulated as per Anixx's comment to look for on-line sources of the North Korea famine(s) in 1990s and the second paragraph removed, then it would be another matter. – Sardathrion - against SE abuse Apr 23 '13 at 16:17
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    I'm going to vote to close. If you're going to exclude all testimony that references US Congressmen, then you're not practicing history, you're practicing politics. Besides the sources that @Sardathrion cites include According to diplomats, United Nations officials and a variety of non-government organizations, North Korea stands yet again on the brink of a major food shortage.. Unless the all diplomats and NGO's are tainted by association with US Congressmen. – MCW Apr 23 '13 at 16:32
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    @Mark C. Wallace do you mean the US congressmen are a reliable and objective historical source? What about N Korea People's assembly members? Well my question was created so to find out whether there any evidence beyond the claims by selected politicians. – Anixx Apr 23 '13 at 16:38
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    @Sardathrion no, my question is what the evidence for the famines besides the claims by interested politicians (US senators) and defectors (who are obviously interested). That is I am looking for verifiable evidence. – Anixx Apr 23 '13 at 17:56
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    typical Anixx, anything not coming from communist sources is rejected on general principle... – jwenting Apr 24 '13 at 5:57

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. It looks at the evidence we have for their production, their consumption of food aid, amost other things.

edit: The sources he's used that I've looked at are UNICEF, ROK figures (probably not what you wanted) and NGO figures like the KBSM below.

Some of the data used but not given can be found in Forced Migration and Mortality. The abstract is of interest but too long to post, here is some of it:

Buddhist Sharing Movement (KBSM) released a report on the North Korean food crisis based on interviews with North Korean migrants in China ... FIGURES HERE... “that the worst famine in human history is now transpiring in North Korea” (Korean Buddhist Sharing Movement, 1998). Concerned by these accounts but unable to assess the reliability of their findings, a U.S. nongovernmental organization (NGO) active in North Korean humanitarian relief, Mercy Corps International, invited the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health to undertake its own study of North Korean migrants in China. In the past five years, significant numbers of North Koreans have been moving across the Chinese border in search of food for themselves and their families. It is estimated that between 50,000 and 150,000 North Koreans are staying temporarily in China...


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