A new TV documentary claims that starving North Koreans are reverting to cannibalism in order to survive, and states that farmers been ordered to grow opium instead of food.

Carla Garapedian, producer of “Children of the Secret State,” a BBC production, said that film smuggled out of North Korea, as well as interviews with escapees from the Communist state, revealed “acts of unspeakable barbarism not seen since Pol Pot’s Cambodia.” She has spoken to farmers who claim to have been ordered not to grow food and told to growopium instead. “The opium would then be processed by the state into heroin and then sold abroad. The proceeds would go to arm the military,” she said.

She described the drawings of 15 year-old Jang Gil-su, who fled North Korea with his family, that depict families eating pine bark, rats, snakes, and anything else they can get hold of in order to stay alive. One drawing shows a man at a market stall with the caption, “Man selling human flesh (saramhoki) at a farmer’s market in Hoeroung City.”

“All of the North Koreans we interviewed knew about it,” Garapedian said, “Jang’s picture of a dismembered child in a cooking pot says more than any of the numbing statistics.” Independent verification of the practice is difficult, because Hoeroung City is impossible to visit or contact in secretive North Korea.

“You eat it without knowing it is human flesh. You’re so hungry you just eat it,” she quotes one orphan as saying. She claims that more than 200,000 orphans are starving, despite the fact that North Korea receives the second largest amount of food aid in the world.

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