Stunted Nation

Last year, I wrote:

Through no fault of their own, the people of North Korea simply aren’t ready to enter the modern world, and South Korea can’t afford to feed, house, re-educate, and re-civilize them all.

Whether or not there’s a war, when North Korea collapses there’s going to be a humanitarian crisis on a scale the world has never seen — 22 million scared, hungry, and desperate people left without any semblance of anything familiar.


I didn’t know the half of it:

More worrisome to South Koreans, and something that is not discussed publicly, is the effect of malnutrition on IQ. It is known that children who suffer malnutrition when they are young, do less well in school and have more discipline problems. Some 500 North Korean children have made it to South Korea since the famine began, and they have had trouble in school. North Korean refugees who go to South Korean universities, drop out 80 percent of the time. Some of this poor academic performance can be attributed to the disruption, to the education system up north, by the famine. But the North Korean kids score lower on all sorts of tests. The South Korean government won’t release statistics, but observers estimate that the Northern children born since the famine began a decade ago are three or more inches shorter than their counterparts down south. South Koreans fear that, when reunification comes, the northerners will feel inferior because of their shorter stature and weaker intellectual powers. As a result, the northerners will be less economically productive, which will require southerners to come up with more money to rebuild the north.


Can anyone — outside of Europe’s early senility factories, er, “ivory towers” — still doubt the true expense of totalitarianism?


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