IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

How Signifying Practices Constitute Food (In)security The Case of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Listed author(s):
  • David Shim


    (GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies)

Registered author(s):

    This paper argues that the question of food (in)security in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is not necessarily indicative of the country’s actual nutritional conditions but is rather constituted through meaning-making behavior—signifying practices—predominantly on the part of humanitarian aid institutions working there. The argument is not intended to gloss over the food and nutritional situation in North Korea or to suggest that famine, starvation, or malnutrition do not exist. The paper nevertheless argues that humanitarian institutions are not external to or separate from the reality they observe, monitor, and measure, but are rather constitutive of the categories which produce that reality— in this case food (in)security in North Korea. The undertaking of nutrition surveys, food security assessments, and food-aid monitoring as well as the issuing of consensus statements are examples of aid practices that signify North Korea in terms of vulnerability, emergency, and food insecurity. The paper’s central argument is that it is through precisely these observations, assessments, and representations that food (in)security in North Korea comes into being.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies in its series GIGA Working Paper Series with number 122.

    in new window

    Length: 35 pages
    Date of creation: Feb 2010
    Handle: RePEc:gig:wpaper:122
    Contact details of provider: Postal:
    Neuer Jungfernstieg 21, D-20354 Hamburg

    Phone: +49 (0)40 42825-593
    Fax: +49 (0)40 42825-547
    Web page:

    More information through EDIRC

    Order Information: Email:

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    in new window

    1. Schwekendiek, Daniel, 2008. "The North Korean standard of living during the famine," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 596-608, February.
    2. Nord, Mark & Andrews, Margaret S. & Carlson, Steven, 2008. "Household Food Security in the United States, 2007," Economic Research Report 56483, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    3. Haggard, Stephan & Noland, Marcus, 2009. "Famine in North Korea Redux?," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 384-395, September.
    4. Stephan Haggard & Marcus Noland & Erik Weeks, 2008. "North Korea on the Precipice of Famine," Policy Briefs PB08-6, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    5. R.R. Krishnan, 1981. "North Korea and the Non-Aligned Movement," International Studies, , vol. 20(1-2), pages 299-313, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:gig:wpaper:122. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Bert Hoffmann)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.