Residents of North Korea (also known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) have been struggling to survive since the end of the Cold War. The loss of trading partners and stalled economic growth has resulted in numerous problems, the most well-known being the famine that attracted worldwide attention in the mid-1990s.
Although international humanitarian aid has helped address the food crisis, North Korea is not out of danger yet. Food supplies continue to be a problem, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases are a major health concern and poverty continues to grip the population. North Korea recently enacted modest economic reforms through more market-oriented price adjustments and some corresponding wage increases, yet it is too early to tell how these changes will ultimately impact the country and its citizens. Signs of poverty are showing in urban areas, which until recently was primarily a rural phenomenon.
CRS has been supporting North Korea with food aid, as well as health and agriculture programming since 1995. Through these programs and regular visits from staff, CRS hopes to promote dialogue and understanding that will lead to reconciliation and peace on the Korean Peninsula, and opportunities for the United States to work in solidarity with the citizens of North Korea.