North Korean factories are filling city store shelves with ever better and fancier snack foods and sugary drinks, while government officials and international aid organizations warn the nation could be on the verge of a major food crisis.

North Korea’s U.N. ambassador, Kim Song, issued an unusual appeal for “urgent” food assistance last month. He cited record-high temperatures, drought and flooding that cut the harvest this year by more than 10 percent.

The government says it’s stepping up imports and working to increase the output of early and basic crops such as wheat and barley.

In this March 13, 2019, photo, a guide shows samples of food produced at Kumkhop Trading Co. displayed in its show room Pyongyang, North Korea. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
In this March 13, 2019, photo, a guide shows samples of food produced at Kumkhop Trading Co. displayed in its show room Pyongyang, North Korea. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

Hazel Smith, a North Korea expert at the University of London, says supplies from all sources might only stretch to feed about three-quarters of the population at the most basic survival level this year.

In this  March 13, 2019, photo, a worker runs a conveyor belt moving bottles of soft drinks near a propaganda banner that reads
In this March 13, 2019, photo, a worker runs a conveyor belt moving bottles of soft drinks near a propaganda banner that reads “Let’s uphold the banner of the speed of Mallima (a mythical Pegasus-type horse)” at Kumkhop Trading Co. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
In this March 13, 2019, photo, employees peek through a door into a showroom at a food factory in Pyongyang, North Korea. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
In this March 13, 2019, photo, employees peek through a door into a showroom at a food factory in Pyongyang, North Korea. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

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