The World Food Programme usually supports only children in primary schools, but in the DPRK our schools assistance goes further – to support orphans in state boarding schools right through the secondary age-group.
Ri Hyon-Gil is 14 years old and attends a boarding school in Jaeryung City, about an hour’s drive south-west of Pyongyang. His father died of an illness when he was eight, following on from the death of his mother, leaving him without parents in a country where finding enough food to eat is a daily struggle.
When we met him he’d just left an English class - which he says is his favourite subject - because the teacher is very energetic. We try and exchange a few words and he immediately pipes up “My name is Ri Hyon-Gil!”
Although he receives a nutritious snack from WFP in the morning and afternoon, he says that the portions served at the main meal are not really enough for him and that he always feels hungry during the day. Despite that he insists he works as hard as he can to catch every word of what the teacher says.
When he discovers that one of his visitors from WFP is from Italy, like almost all people in DPR Korea he smiles and recalls that his country beat Italy in the 1966 football World Cup. His own sporting preference is for Taekwondo, and he says with a huge smile that he has never lost – that WFP food must be doing him some good...