The director of U.N. humanitarian operations says international aid donations to North Korea remain lamentably low, saying the country's program "shouldn't be languishing as one of the worst funded in the world."

John Ging spoke Friday after a three-day visit last month to the reclusive and impoverished Asian country.

Ging says an estimated 16 million people in North Korea face chronic food insecurity, more than 30 percent of children have stunted development and chronic malnutrition is a fact of life.

He says just $26 million of a "modest" aid appeal of $116 million has been funded. He praised a recent commitment of $13 million by South Korea.

Ging also rejected the idea that aid work in North Korea is impossible, calling the programming there among the best he's seen.