North Korea's Forest Loss Leads to Flood Damage in Vicious Circle | Be Korea-savvy

North Korea’s Forest Loss Leads to Flood Damage in Vicious Circle

Agriculture in North Korea (image: Wikimedia Commons)

Agriculture in North Korea (image: Wikimedia Commons)

SEOUL, July 19 (Korea Bizwire) – North Korea is caught in a vicious circle largely because of its severe food shortage problems, according to local forest expert’s recently published book.

In a book titled “The Loss of North Korea’s Forests Turning the Korean Peninsula into Desert,” written by Kim Seong-il, a professor of forest science department at Seoul National University, the professor argues, “North Korean forests have notably declined, since the food shortage problems there lead to rising number of terraced farms at the expense of the forests that are vulnerable to even small amount of rain; Housed and crops were all washed away by the flood in vicious circle.”

North Korea’s forests which represented about 68 percent of the total area in 1990, shrank to 51 percent in 2005 — only in 15 years — and the green space accounted for less than half of the total area, accounting for only 47 percent of the total area in 2010.

The rapid shrinkage in the forest of North Korea has a serious problem pressing for solution if it wants to get out of the recurring flood-induced damages annually. United Nations’ survey during its trip to North Korea on July 23 and 24 last year gave an alarming bell to the seriousness of the issue in this regard. Here is the UN’s survey witnessing the issue:

Torrential rains left more than 11,000 houses collapsing and some 23,000 being injured. The flooding of the Cheongcheon River sent 80 percent of Anju City drowned in water and disrupted water and sewage systems.

Damages were also severe in Bakchon and Taechon counties in North Pyongan Province. Rice paddies and farms sank in waters and tens of thousands of livestock were carried away by flood, resulting in severe shortage of food and drinking water.

By Jerry M. Kim (


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