More than 20-thousand North Koreans in South Hwanghae province have died of starvation since former leader Kim Jong-il's death in December last year.
This is according to the Japanese daily Tokyo Shimbun.
The paper cited North Korea sources and said a case of severe famine in the region is being blamed for the high death toll.
It added that the North's new leader Kim Jung-un has recently instructed authorities to distribute rice from military rations to the hunger-stricken residents.
The paper also pointed out that, while lavish celebrations were being held to mark the centenary of North Korean founder Kim Il-sung's birth, a great number of people across the country are literally starving to death.
The acute famine was reportedly caused by heavy rains and flooding last year, which sharply reduced the harvest of crops in South Hwanghae Province.