Communism is bad for your health
While their cousins in the south have thrived physiologically, thanks to the comforts of capitalism, North Koreans remain as stunted in stature as they were after the Second World War. Adolescents look like children, adults like young teenagers. Nor is the height difference a slight one. After studying more than 2,300 refugees who have fled the north over the past four years, anthropologist Sunyoung Pak has found that the average young northern male is 5.9cm (2.32in) shorter than his southern contemporary. The difference for women is 4.1cm (roughly 1.62in).
'North Koreans are clearly suffering from chronic growth retardation,' said Pak, of Seoul National University in South Korea. Her studies, to be published in the international journal, Economics and Human Biology [abstract here], this month, suggest that North Koreans must have suffered severe malnutrition problems virtually since Korea split into two states in 1948.