North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il has dispatched embassy officials around the world to go cap-in-hand to foreign governments asking for food aid, as the combined effects of poor harvests and inefficient collectivist farming practices threaten famine in the communist country. The move suggests North Korea may be in for a famine, a series of which have struck the country in recent decades, costing by some estimates as many as two million lives. Exacerbating the problem: Kim’s obsessive secrecy. While Pyongyang could ask the World Food Programme (WFP) for help, the organization quite rightly demands access to food distribution points to ensure it’s getting to the people who need it, and Kim prefers not to let them in. Hence the direct appeal to other countries.