A shipment of 54,000 tons of U.S. corn is on its way to North Korea, news reports said Sunday. It would be first direct export of U.S. grain to the communist country.
The corn left Seattle on Wednesday, the newspaper Dong-A Ilbo reported, quoting industry sources.
Corn is the chief grain of mountainous North Korea. South Korea says recent bad harvests there have caused worsening shortages.
Defectors from North Korea have all reported severe food shortages, saying people were eating gruel and even animal feed while the communist regime diverted resources to the military.
North Korea agreed last October to freeze its nuclear program, suspected of being used for bomb development. In return, Washington promised to provide it with replacement reactors that produce far less weapons-grade plutonium, and to improve diplomatic ties and economic aid.