People in North Korea Are Starving While Kim Jong Un’s Sister Travels in Luxury

Cristina Maza

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister spent three days staying in luxury hotels during the Winter Olympic games while the majority of her country’s population can’t afford to eat, according to reports.

South Korea’s Ministry of Reunification announced Thursday that the Olympic hosts spent around $223,237 on accommodation, transportation, and food for the North Korean leader’s sister Kim Yo Jong and her delegation, which stayed in a five-star hotel in South Korea’s capital Seoul. The majority of that money was spent on hotel rooms, but Yo Jong and her delegation traveled every day from the capital to the venue where the Olympic games were held, and dined in fancy restaurants, officials noted. She traveled in a delegation of four with 18 staff members. 

South Korea announced last week that it would allocate around $2.7 million to pay the costs of North Korea’s Olympic delegation. In addition to its 22 athletes, North Korea sent around 500 delegates, including musicians and over 200 cheerleaders. The International Olympic Committee paid around $50,000 to train the 22 Olympic athletes North Korea sent to the games, and also paid the athletes’ accommodation costs.

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South and North Korea are marching under a joint flag at this year’s Winter Olympic Games, a move that is meant to improve the relationship between the two countries and defuse tensions as the threat of war on the Korean Peninsula became more serious in recent months.


Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, attends the Women's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round - Group B game between Switzerland and Korea on day one of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Kwandong Hockey Centre on February 10, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

North Korea is one of the world’s most impoverished countries, and the vast majority of its resources goes to bolstering its nuclear capabilities and its military. The country’s leadership has repeatedly threatened to attack South Korea. Having a large North Korean delegation attend the 2018 Winter Olympics was meant to safeguard against a conflict breaking out during the games.

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According to the Borgen Project, a campaign against poverty, most North Koreans earn between $2 and $3 per month. A 2017 study by the United Nations revealed that 18 million people in North Korea are not getting enough food, and North Korean women are especially at risk of suffering from malnutrition. 

“Malnutrition among children and women of reproductive age remains a nationwide problem. The majority of children under 24 months, and 50 percent of pregnant and breastfeeding women have insufficient dietary diversity leading to micronutrient deficiencies and unacceptably high prevalence of chronic and acute malnutrition,” the report reads.

This article was first written by Newsweek

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