Aid work in North Korea — 5 ways to stay safe and be effective

By Jeff Tyson 09 February 2016

The Monument to Party Founding in Pyongyang, North Korea. How can aid workers navigate a country notorious for detaining and expelling foreigners? Photo by: Jen Morgan / CC BY-ND

Aid workers endure all kinds of dangerous conditions, but it’s the rare country that will accuse you of “bringing down the foundation of its single minded unity.”

Reclusive North Korea has been in the headlines a lot recently. On Sunday, the country defied world leaders by launching a long-range rocket — an act widely regarded as an intercontinental missile test. And just over two weeks ago North Korea’s state-run media announced that the country had arrested 21-year-old American university student Otto Frederick Warmbier, accusing him of committing a “hostile act” against the state.

The media report went on to allege Warmbier entered North Korea “under the guise of a tourist for the purpose of bringing down the foundation of its single minded unity at the tacit connivance of the U.S. government and under its manipulation.”

North Korea’s headline-grabbing actions draw attention away from a threat aid workers in particular should be paying attention to — the country’s persistent malnutrition problem.

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About the author

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Jeff Tyson@jtyson21

Jeff is a global development reporter for Devex. Based in Washington, DC, he covers multilateral affairs, U.S. aid and international development trends. He has worked with human rights organizations in both Senegal and the United States, and prior to joining Devex worked as a production assistant at National Public Radio. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations and French from the University of Rochester.

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