North Korea, seeking food aid, links sanctions to shortages

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.

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.