February 1, 2007｜Korean Peninsula
Dr. Seok Cheol-Won
Director, Association of Korean Social Scientists KASS
In recent years in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea great effort has been poured into major natural improvement projects to build up the economy and to raise the standard of living of the people.
Representative examples of this are the large-scale land re-zoning and the construction of gravity-fed waterways.
The large-scale land re-zoning in the DPRK started with the re-zoning of land in Kangwon Province in 1998.
In Kangwon Province, in the space of just months, they re-zoned 32,941 jongbo of rice paddies and non-paddy fields, and from all these fields set in order standardized paddies of 800–1,000 pyong, thereby gaining a lot of new land.[*]
Following on from the land re-zoning in Kangwon Province, we moved forward with the land re-zoning in paddy-rich North Pyongan Province.
The land in North Pyongan Province has poor drainage, and has a variety of unfavorable conditions, but based on the experience acquired in the land re-zoning in Kangwon Province, the soldiers and people of the province made a united effort and set in order 149,384 1,000-pyong standardized paddy fields from some 531,340 paddies, filled in 4,000-odd pools of water, and gained 4,200 jongbo of new land.
In the DPRK, we took the re-zoning of land in Kangwon Province as our model, and based on that used it as a method for re-zoning land nationwide—with it expanding into North Pyongan Province, South Hwanghae Province, Pyongyang City, Nampo City, and South Pyongan Province. To date something in the order of 200,000 jongbo of land have been re-zoned, and 10,000 jongbo of new land has been obtained to boot.
Via the large-scale re-zoning of land the way has been opened toward full-mechanization in all the agricultural villages of the DPRK, and the countenance of the nation has changed anew.
With the US’s economic sanctions and its machinations to put the squeeze on the DPRK being brazenly stepped up by the day, and in the adverse situation where we were also confronted with the insurmountable problems from a string of natural disasters and in electricity production, we have been pushing ahead with the project to change the pumped-water irrigation system over to a gravity-fed one.
The gravity-fed waterways in the DPRK constructed to date are one interconnecting gravity-fed irrigation system, with the waterway put in place from Kaechon to Lake Taesong being the fundamental link with the Pyongnam and Kiyang irrigation networks.
The DPRK completed this gigantic construction project, which would ordinarily have taken more than 10 years, in a period of roughly 2 years.
Due to the completion of the Kaechon–Lake Taesong Waterway, there has been the freeing up of 536 water pumps, transformers and motors, and the laying idle of 300-plus pumping stations, which has made possible the saving of 60,000 kW of electricity. Water can also be supplied to 100,000 jongbo of arable land in the area and cereal production in the hundreds of thousands of tons can be realized.
The Paekma–Cholsan Waterway is a grand monumental project with approximately 700 ri of channels for carrying muddy water (1 ri is approximately 400 meters) and 1,400-plus man-made structures, and which runs 670 ri to Lake Paekma, one of the best lakes in the DPRK in terms of capacity for storing water for irrigation use.
Work started on the waterway in March 2003 and was completed in October 2005.
With the completion of the Paekma–Cholsan Waterway some 400 pieces of equipment have been freed up, including water pumps, motors and transformers, and 40,000 kW of electricity has been saved. A vast area of arable land in six cities and counties can also be supplied with ample irrigation water, and a solid foundation has been readied which enables the completion of a high-level provision of hydraulic infrastructure in the western part of the country.
In the DPRK, based on the experience acquired from the construction of the Kaechon–Lake Taesong Waterway and the Paekma–Cholsan Waterway, we are pushing ahead with construction of another gravity-fed waterway in the Miru Plain in North Hwanghae Province.
When the waterway in the Miru Plain is completed, it is expected to bring about a transformation in the cereal production in the region.
In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, while unswervingly adhering to socialist principles, we hope to pour more effort into solving, under our own steam and matching our actual situation, all of the problems posed by economic construction and raising the standard of living of the people.
|[*] One jongbo is approximately 9,917 m2 (0.9917 hectares), and one pyong is approximately 3.3508 m2.|
[Translated by ERINA]