Kim Jong Un Says North Korea Faces Food Crisis Due to Flooding

SEOUL—Kim Jong Un said his country’s food situation is getting tense, an acknowledgment of the continuing challenges inside North Korea following a year of major flood damage, pandemic shutdowns and ongoing sanctions.

Kicking off a plenary session of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, Mr. Kim urged the country’s leaders to resolve food shortages resulting from lower agricultural output that he attributed largely to crop failures caused by last summer’s typhoons, according to a state-media report out of Pyongyang on Wednesday.

“The agricultural sector failed to fulfill its grain production plan,” Mr. Kim was quoted as saying.

The North Korean leader’s assessment mirrors independent reporting on the Kim regime’s food stability. The impoverished country last year had an estimated food deficit of about 1 million metric tons, a scarcity that equates to the average North Korean eating 445 calories less a day than the 2,100-calorie-diet recommended by the United Nations, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report from January.

This year, North Korea could face food shortages of up to 1.35 million tons, according to a May report from the Korea Development Institute, a think tank backed by the South Korean government. The institute’s report estimated the country’s food requirements are about 5.75 million tons annually.