North Koreans are dying because of food shortages in rural areas and a massive famine is just a matter of time, a South Korean aid group said Friday. The food situation was as bad as the famine that hit the country in the mid-1990s, which left as many as 2 million people dead, Seoul-based Good Friends - a Buddhist-affiliated group that sends food and other aid to the North - cited an unidentified North Korean official Friday as saying. "So far, mass deaths have not occurred as people have become more used to (starvation) than in the 1990s, but famine is a matter of time," the official was quoted as saying by the aid group. Good Friends also quoted Kim Ki-nam, 39, a resident of Sariwon, south of Pyongyang, as saying one or two deaths were happening every day in rural areas around the city. The aid group urged North Korea to acknowledge the situation's seriousness and ask for international help to prevent massive famine. It also urged South Korea to soften its position on the North and offer aid without waiting for Pyongyang's request.