The World Food Program says it is launching an emergency operation to help feed 3.5 million people suffering from hunger in North Korea.
A WFP spokeswoman says the global body believes food shortages have "led to a serious deterioration in the health of millions" in the East Asian country.
Emilia Casella says the harsh winter and poor vegetable crop last year have left North Korea with severe shortages of staple foods.
Casella told reporters in Geneva on Friday that chronic malnutrition is already widespread in the country.
WFP stressed in a statement that the aid operation in the authoritarian single-party state "will include the highest standards of monitoring and control to ensure that food gets to where it is needed."