North Korea Limits School Hours to Fight Drought


09 July, 2017

North Korea's government has reduced school hours so students can water crops affected by a drought. The drought is affecting the country's farms, according to two unnamed sources.

The sources also said the public is displeased with Kim Jong Un's government. The public is frustrated that the government is spending money on missile tests instead of dealing with the drought.

They told Radio Free Asia's Korean Service that all students from high school and above are required to water crops for hours in the morning. Schools are starting later because of this.

Farmers plant seedlings in farm fields located along a highway, Tuesday, June 13, 2017, in Pyongyang, North Korea.
Farmers plant seedlings in farm fields located along a highway, Tuesday, June 13, 2017, in Pyongyang, North Korea.

One of the sources is from the northern province of Yanggang. He said the drought is caused by one of the worst rain shortages in recent years. He also said the government's efforts to water state-operated farms were not enough. Crops are being damaged by the drought.

The source said the extra efforts to water crops began on May 10. He said there had been no rain for more than a month.

He said, "We had a couple of showers in Yanggang but it was not enough to ease the drought."

The source said that parts of North Hamgyong, a province that borders Yanggang on the north, "didn't have a single drop of rain" during the same period. He said that if there was no rain soon, "no farm produced crops can be expected."

He said that the people from the southern provinces of Hwanghae and Kangwon are not having the same problems. He said that, in the southern areas, there are reports of good rice harvests. But in his area there is serious damage to corn, soybeans and potatoes.

A second source was from Chagang, a province that boarders Yanggang to the west. The second source told Radio Free Asia that farms in parts of his area were failing because of drought.

He said corn stalks are completely dried out and the corn stems are almost not surviving on the collective farms. He said the drought was affecting the areas from Manpo, a city on the Yalu River near China, to Chongpo, a village about 16 kilometers northeast of the city of Kanggye.

He said Chungang, a county 150 kilometers north of Manpo, was experiencing a more severe drought than Manpo. He said it is because corn is the county's main crop. The first source said that corn was the most severely damaged crop.

The source said, students were sent to an equal number of collective farms to help with irrigation.

He said, "High school and college students have been mobilized for watering crops from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. each day, and their classes now begin from 11:00 a.m."

However, he added that the drought "cannot be fought with simple manpower." He said using water containers to irrigate the crops is not effective.

Instead, the source said, water pumps are needed to bring water from nearby rivers to farms. He said, for farms that are too far away, fire trucks should be used.

He expressed anger that Kim Jung Un had fired a number of missiles while the people are physically suffering because they have to water crops. There have been at least five confirmed missile tests conducted by the government between May 13 and June 23.

One source said, "The people are resentful of his actions and have expressed their frustrations by saying, ‘If there is money to fire missiles, it could have been used to combat more than ten droughts.'"

I'm Mario Ritter.

And I'm Olivia Liu

Sunghui Moon reported this story for RFA. Olivia Liu adapted it for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

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Words in This Story

droughtn. a severe lack of rain

sourcen. a person who offers information to the media

frustratedv. to be upset because of being unable to do something

irrigationn. the process of watering crops

mobilizedv. to get a large number of people to do a task

resentfuladj. to be angry at someone or something

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