Original Version Published in AUGUST 1ST, 2011. The current flood crisis is worse than the flood following Kim Il-Sung’s death in 1994-1995, local sources reported on July 29th and August 1st. There are even human casualties.
The flood has impacted many regions, including South Pyong-an and North Hwanghae provinces. In South Pyong-an, farmlands in Oncheon, Jeungsan, and Daedong counties were the most severely damaged. A military report assessed the damage and was sent to the Provincial Party Committee at Pyong-an’s Department of Agriculture. In response, the Central Party in Pyongyang ordered each provincial party to send a Party Security Administration “inspection group” to its cities and districts.
According to the military report, “The rainfall between July 13th and July 16th alone has ruined more than 20% of this year’s farming in South Pyong-an Province, because Oncheon, Jeungsan and Daedong, the biggest granary counties in the province after Sukchon and Pyongwon, were flooded.” Sources say, “Low level coastal areas like Guisung, a lower Daedong river region in Oncheon, received an average precipitation of more than 60mm per hour. That is more rainfall than 1994, the year of Kim Il-Sung’s death.”
Even regions that should be relatively safe from flooding experienced an unusual level of damage this year. Ordinarily, the high mountains of Goksan and Sinpyong in North Hwanghae Province shield the counties from flooding. In recent years, however, military troops had “recklessly cut down trees to build some power plant,” a source says. It is possible that this ‘human error’ exacerbated the crisis in Goksan and Sinpyong. The source further reported of a landslide in a village near the 8.15 Training Center's Kyodo Brigade Headquarter district in Sinpyong District. The exact number of casualties could not be determined, but at least 10 casualties came from the families of local military officers.
On July 30th, North Korea declared Seoheung in North Hwanghae Province as one of the disaster regions. On August 1, a source interpreted that the unannounced floodgate release at the Seoheung Reservoir was the biggest contributing factor to the disaster. A sudden floodgate opening had also been the cause behind the destruction of Seongheung River No. 1 Power Plant, the source added.
The flooding of Cheongdan and Baechon in South Hwanghae Province present more difficulties for North Korea’s crops this year. Cheongdan and Baechon are the only farmlands in North Korea that yield more than 8t of crop per jungbo (3.3 hectare.)
If even North Korea’s most productive lands like Cheongdan and Baechon are ruined, as the military report says, this year’s food shortage may be almost impossible to overcome with farming. The food situation in North Korea may become unimaginably worse.
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