News / Asia

Korean Peninsula Faces Worst Drought in a Century

A dead fish on the cracked bed of a reservoir after months of severe drought, Seoul, South Korea, June 26, 2012.A dead fish on the cracked bed of a reservoir after months of severe drought, Seoul, South Korea, June 26, 2012.
x
A dead fish on the cracked bed of a reservoir after months of severe drought, Seoul, South Korea, June 26, 2012.
A dead fish on the cracked bed of a reservoir after months of severe drought, Seoul, South Korea, June 26, 2012.
VOA News
Large parts of the Korean peninsula are battling the worst regional water shortages in more than a century, with reports of North Korean soldiers hand-carrying water to irrigate parched farmland, and 80 percent of the South facing extreme drought.

North Korean news reports on Tuesday said more than 20,000 hectares of cropland have been destroyed in Hwanghae province alone, and said regional water reservoirs are empty. In a rare public acknowledgement, the Korean Central News Agency said farming "has been severely affected by the devastating drought." It also acknowledged the deployment of "servicepersons, officials of ministries and national institutions, and other people," in a push to stem the crisis.

In Seoul, South Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik warned of looming price hikes for produce and cuts in water supplies. Since April, the capital has received only 7 percent of the rainfall it experienced during the same period last year.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) quotes North Korean officials as saying about 90 percent of non-paddy cultivated areas in five key provinces have been hit hardest by weeks of dry, hot weather.

FAO spokesman Kisan Gunjal says the duration of the dry spell is unclear, as are the prospects for replanting the country's key maize crop if rainfall materializes.

“If it rains within one or two weeks, the maize could still be replanted," he said. "But then there’s a big question as to whether they have enough seed to do that or not.”

Forecasters predict possible rainfall for the eastern half of the peninsula late this week, but meteorologists say that whatever precipitation materializes will not significantly alter arid conditions in the region.

The head of a key German relief agency operating in the North says it is unclear whether crops - particularly maize - will survive current conditions. Wolfgang Jamann, who heads the German aid agency Welthungerhilfe, told reporters in Beijing last week that he saw North Korean children using bottles and buckets to water crops by hand in two southern provinces. He spoke after a nearly week-long visit to the North.

North Korea endured famine in the 1990s that killed an estimated one million people. Its population continues to experience chronic food shortages - much of which Western analysts blame on government mismanagement and an economic system that saps farmer productivity.

In the face of ongoing shortages, Pyongyang staged a controversial rocket launch earlier this year, in defiance of a United Nations prohibitions and drawing widespread international condemnation. In response, the United States canceled a deal under which Washington was to have provided 240,000 metric tons of emergency food supplies to the North.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More