"Problems such as more orphan children on the streets and death by starvation are continuously being reported," said Lee Sang Yong, editor in chief of the Daily NK, which has sources in North Korea. "The lower classes in North Korea are suffering more and more," as food shortages are worse than expected, Mr Lee said.
Getting information out of North Korea is increasingly difficult. The border has been closed since January last year to prevent the spread of Covid-19 from China. Even getting messages out of the country to family and friends who have defected to South Korea comes at a huge risk. Anyone caught with an unauthorised mobile phone could be thrown into a labour camp. And yet some still try to send letters or voice mail via text to their loved ones and to publications in Seoul. Through these sources, some of which have to remain anonymous, we have tried to build a picture of what is going on.