The Korea Times

Settings

ⓕ font-size

  • -2
  • -1
  • 0
  • +1
  • +2

North Korea releases water from border dam after downpours

  • Facebook share button
  • Twitter share button
  • Kakao share button
  • Mail share button
  • Link share button
Water gushes through the gates of Gunnam Dam on the Imjin River, which runs across the inter-Korean border, in the South Korean border town of Yeoncheon, Tuesday. Yonhap
Water gushes through the gates of Gunnam Dam on the Imjin River, which runs across the inter-Korean border, in the South Korean border town of Yeoncheon, Tuesday. Yonhap

By Jung Min-ho

North Korea released water from a dam near South Korea without providing prior notice despite an inter-Korean agreement and Seoul's repeated requests, an official said Tuesday.

"It appears that North Korea has repeatedly opened floodgates on Hwanggang Dam without notifying us," an official told The Korea Times. "So far, there have been no reports of damage by the recent water release … North Korea seems to be adjusting the water level in the dam after heavy rainfall there."

The dam, which was constructed on the Imjin River in 2007, is situated 42 kilometers north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone. North Korea agreed in October 2009 to give prior notice to the South after six South Koreans were killed in Yeoncheon one month earlier as a result of its massive release of water from the dam without notification.

The official said the South received such notices six times since the agreement; the latest one came in July 2013. When heavy rains hit the region in June, the Ministry of Unification urged Pyongyang again to abide by the deal after suspected water release from the dam. But it has not responded.

Before the 2009 incident, South Korea was building a dam in Yeoncheon to prevent possible flood damage. The construction was then accelerated and completed the following year. But given Gunnam Dam's relatively small size, damage in the South is inevitable if North Korea discharges too much water at once. The ministry is closely monitoring the situation there as rain is forecast this week, the official said.

After heavy downpours battered Yeoncheon and other central parts of the Korean Peninsula, Monday, the water level at Pilseung Bridge ― located over the river area between the two dams ― rose to as dangerously high as 5.3 meters that evening before starting to subside.

A riverside pathway is submerged by the Taedong River in Pyongyang, North Korea, Monday, in this captured footage from the official Korean Central Broadcasting Station. Yonhap
A riverside pathway is submerged by the Taedong River in Pyongyang, North Korea, Monday, in this captured footage from the official Korean Central Broadcasting Station. Yonhap

North Korea urges public to protect crops

North Korea has issued a heavy rain alert across its southern regions, calling on the public to protect crops, amid downpours that threaten to worsen its food shortages.

According to reports from the Korean Central Broadcasting Station and Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpieces of the ruling Workers' Party, the advisory was issued Tuesday across the areas near the inter-Korean border, including South Hwanghae and Gangwon Provinces as well as Gaeseong.

"It is our most important mission to protect the country's dignity and the lives of the people by protecting crops against the nature's challenges," the Rodong paper said.

In what appears to be recognition of global climate warming, the paper added it would be immensely important to be prepared for "more frequent rains and typhoons" as "disastrous abnormal climate" poses threats to its communist system of governance.

On Monday, the broadcaster reported that the Taedong River flooded riverside pathways in Pyongyang. It said authorities were trying their best to prevent the flood from damaging nearby farmlands as they adjusted the water levels.

The North Korean public have suffered from chronic food shortages and malnutrition. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the food situation became so severe that its leader Kim Jong-un drew a comparison to the infamous famine in the 1990s, which killed hundreds upon thousands of people ― if not millions.

According to the World Factbook, published online in May by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, North Korea's food insecurity worsened after the beginning of the pandemic and "a large portion of the population suffers from low levels of food consumption and very poor dietary diversity."



Jung Min-ho mj6c2@koreatimes.co.kr


Interactive News

  • E-Prix thrills racing fans in Seoul
  • With tough love,
  • 'Santa dogs' help rebuild burnt forests in Andong
  • 'Santa dogs' help rebuild burnt forests in Andong
  • A tale of natural wine
X
CLOSE

Top 10 Stories

go top LETTER