Evidence of a number of medium-sized forest fires in various areas of North Korea has been revealed in new research, most notably around the country’s newest missile launch facility in North Pyongan Province.
Utilizing both satellite images provided by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and climate data, Korea Centre for Atmospheric Environment Research (KCAER) cautioned this morning that air temperatures in North Korea are currently unusually high in various regions.
When the air temperature in a given area of more than one square kilometer is between 5 and 10 degrees C above that of surrounding areas, it is likely to lead to forest fires. Such areas are known as “hot spots”.
The head of KCAER, Jong Yong Seung explained that as a result of this situation, “In the neighborhood of Cheolsan in North Pyongyan Province, which is where North Korea’s second missile launch site is, a forest fire has been confirmed.”
“Looking at the climate of the relevant area, there have been no instances of lightning or other natural phenomena,” Jong continued, concluding that therefore, “In North Korea, many forest fires are started by the burning of stubble in advance of the farming season and other man-made phenomena.”
One defector who was born in the heavily agricultural area of North Pyongan Province mentioned in the KCAER report agreed, saying, “Most of North Korea’s forest fires spread when fires started in order to burn stubble get out of control. Others happen when hunters set fires in order to cook.”