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Monday, 4 March, 2002, 11:40 GMT
S Koreans told to stop wasting food
North Korean women collecting food rations
North Korea cannot feed its people without foreign aid
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By Caroline Gluck
BBC Seoul Correspondent
South Korea wasted more food last year than the total amount of food available in North Korea, according to a South Korean Government report.

The Ministry of Government and Home Affairs says the food wasted amounted to more than $6bn.

It is urging the public to join a national campaign to reduce the amount of waste.

The report was published just a few days after the United Nations World Food Programme warned that food aid to famine-hit North Korea could run out by July because of a large short fall in international donations

Lavish meals

South Koreans produced more than four-million tons of food waste last year, about 100,000 tons more than the basic food available to North Koreans. The report says vegetables made up most of the waste followed by fish, meat grains and fruit.

Food rations
The WFP says aid is drying up
The government is offering restaurants cash incentives if they cut back on the amount of food thrown away.

Part of the problem is cultural. Koreans lay on lavish meals when they are entertaining, and tables groan under the weight of different side dishes offered. The same is true in restaurants.

But there is new embarrassment that so much food is wasted in the South when people in the North continue to suffer severe food shortages.

The government report underlines the vast economic gulf between the two countries - the South, one of the richest nations in the world, and the North one of the most impoverished.

See also:

10 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
Severe drought threatens Koreas
16 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
N Korea food crisis deepens
09 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
N Koreans 'starving to death'
30 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Where famine stalks the land
28 Oct 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
Life in Pyongyang
09 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
North Korea: A political history
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