"The government has requested assistance from international humanitarian organisations present in the country to address the impact of the food security situation," said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
UN agencies are holding talks with Pyongyang "to take early action in order to address humanitarian needs," he said.
Some 10.5 million North Koreans, or 41 per cent of the population, are in need of food aid, according to UN figures.
The appeal from the government came ahead of a summit next week between President Donald Trump and leader Kim Jong Un to agree on steps toward ending Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missiles program.
The United Nations maintains that maximum pressure from sanctions will remain in place until North Korea has completely scrapped its military arsenal.
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