In September the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said poor rice and maize harvests had left more than 10 million people in urgent need of assistance.
The country has also had to cope with a regional outbreak of swine fever in its pig herd, leading to reduced pork production.
Earlier this year a UN team found families surviving "on a monotonous diet of rice and kimchi most of the year, eating very little protein", according to a report by the World Food Programme. The report said some families were eating protein only a few times a year.
China and other countries have already provided North Korea with food aid so far this year.
However, North Korea has refused to accept 50,000 tonnes of rice from South Korea. This is reportedly because of tensions with the South linked to stalled talks between Pyongyang and the US over the North's nuclear programme.