The damage caused by drought conditions on the Korean Peninsula is growing. Summer rains are due to begin this week, but much of the damage has already been done.
According to the South Korean meteorological authorities, rain is due to start falling on the 30th in central regions of the Peninsula, an area which encompasses the hardest hit regions of Hwanghae Province. However, this will not solve the problem, and the actions of people having trouble finding food are beginning to make the situation worse.
People have traditionally overcome the period of spring food shortages (the so-called ‘Barley Hump’) by consuming potatoes and beans. However, in circumstances where food stocks are lower than normal, such as now, people are forced to go into the fields to extract baby potatoes. This means that the drought will indirectly foster a low potato harvest.
A farming source told Daily NK, “News of people starving to death is going around in Hwanghae Province, and the situation is certainly difficult, more so than after the currency redenomination. The beggars are dying of hunger, but if this situation persists then who knows what damage might be done.”
Chosun Central News Agency recently made public a video of what it said was ‘Severe drought damage in Hwangju County’, vividly conveying the problems being suffered in the breadbasket of North Korea. Notably, large areas of rice paddy in Mundeok County and a smaller region of Daeheung County apparently cannot be farmed at all for lack of water. The damage being done could easily last into next year.
During the spring ‘farming support battle’ this year, incoming support workers focused mainly on drawing water for irrigation. However, the situation remains bad despite measures to overcome the damage. According to the source, “The soybeans, corn and wheat have all dried out, so in reality they are turning over the soil to prepare for autumn.”
Only Jagang and Yangkang Province have had rain since the end of April, according to Rodong Shinmun on the 25th.