SEOUL, May 17 (Yonhap) -- North Koreans are capable of providing food for themselves without outside help and chances are slim that they will experience another famine similar to that of the 1990s, an expert said Monday.
Kim Seok-jin, a researcher at the state-run Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU), made the remarks at a forum hosted by the National Unification Advisory Council, saying that the North's actual food production would be higher than outside estimates.
"Chances are slim that the North will face another great famine like that of the mid to late 1990s," he said.
The researcher pointed out discrepancies between statistical data released by the United Nations and local authorities and the actual level of food production in the North, saying that such data often underestimates the production of various food other than grain.
Kim said that the development of individual farming and an increase in autonomy of cooperative farming has raised the production of various agricultural and fishery products.
North Korea suffered from a severe famine and economic hardship in the 1990s, during which up to 3 million people reportedly died from hunger.
Last month, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made a reference to the deadly famine, warning officials from the ruling Workers' Party to brace themselves for the obstacles that lie ahead amid economic difficulties from prolonged sanctions.