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North Korea: Witness to Transformation

Such Great Heights

by | June 24th, 2012 | 07:22 am

The heights of the North Korean famine occurred between 1994 and 1998.  If you don’t have a calculator handy, that’s between 14 and 18 years from today.  That’s an interesting number because the age when all able-bodied North Korean males must serve in the military begins at 16-17 years of age.  North Korean youths beginning their mandatory military service now and in the coming years were born during the famine period.  We reported last week on recently updated nutrition statistics that include stunting (low height for age) and underweight (low weight for age) rates for different provinces in North Korea.  Among the statistics we reported, some provinces in 1997 displayed stunting rates above 50%.

Well these children are now teenagers and entering into the period of required military service.  Until recently, the height requirement for entry into the DPRK military was 145 cm (just over 4 feet 9 inches).  Apparently, that requirement has become too high to satisfy the military’s recruitment needs.  They have now reduced the requirement to 142 cm (just under 4 feet 8 inches).  To put this in context, the average height for male South Koreans of the same age group is 172 cm (almost 5 feet 8 inches).

How short is 4 feet 8 inches?  Below are some examples of some altitudinally challenged celebrities who would make the cut if they decided to consider a career change.

Danny Devito 5′ 0”

Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi 4′ 9”