DPRK announces continuation of Unryul land reclamation project

Pictured Above: (Left) Map of the reclamation project shown on North Korean television and (right) the project mapped out on Google Earth.  View in Google Maps here.

On June 7, 2011, North Korean Central Television announced the resumption of the Sohae-ri – Nunggum Island land reclamation project (서해리-능금도 간석) in Unryul County (은률군). I have posted the relevant television footage to YouTube.  You can watch it here.

According to my calculations on Google Earth, the project will reclaim just over 11 km2 from the West Sea.  As with other projects, the new real estate will probably be used for food production: agriculture, salt farms, and sea food farms.

The DPRK has launched many projects like this to boost domestic food production (see herehere, and here).  Since the country is overwhelmingly mountainous, and insists on maintaining a closed system, it has limited capacities to obtain the required amount of food needed to sustain the population.

Available options include exports, aid, “decentralized coping techniques”, and land reclamation.  The DPRK has shown no interest in boosting exports to finance food imports, even during the Arduous March. Food aid is only a temporary solution, not a long-term strategy for achieving food self sufficiency.  Additionally, food aid comes with all those pesky monitors and their foreign influences. Decentralized coping mechanisms empower local officials, private growers, and markets at the expense of the national government’s Public Distribution System (PDS) and national forests (cleared for illegal plots).

“Land reclamation” (or through the transformation of inland acreage through irrigation projects) does not seem to scare the North Korean government as much.  Some sea-side villages may become inland villages, but increases in official food production can be channeled through the PDS to strengthen the DPRK government’s grip over its people vis-a-vis the distribution of food (once again).

According to KCNA, this particular section of the Unryul land reclamation project began in August 2010:

The Unryul Mine located in the western area of Korea has benefited from its large-sized and long-distance belt conveyor.

The open-pit mine supplying the Hwanghae Iron and Steel Complex with iron ore was once harassed by myriads of earth-scraping piled up on iron ore seams.

Acquainting himself with the problem, leader Kim Jong Il unfolded a bold and large-scale plan to remove earth-scraping with a belt conveyor.

Under his wise guidance the belt conveyor stretched about 4,600 meters from Lagoon Kumsan to Nunggum Islet in Juche 64 (1975) as the first stage of the project.

Over the past 35 years it has carried 40 million tons of earth to the sea, linking the mainland with islets.

It has also saved much manpower, materials and equipment which had been needed for earth removal.

The earth transported by the belt conveyor was used to build a ten-odd-km-long dike from Lagoon Kumsan to Wolsa-ri, Kwail County via Nunggum, Ung and Chongryang Islets and reclaim more than 3 500 hectares of tideland for agricultural production.

Now the belt conveyor has changed its direction toward Jui Islet from Nunggum Islet.

The dike has more than 1.3 million trees of several dozen species growing in over 150 hectares. A ring road was also built on it.

Many animals and birds such as pheasant, roe deer, hare, raccoon dog and cuckoo live there.


One Response to “DPRK announces continuation of Unryul land reclamation project”

  1. Benoit says:

    Except that the cost for these huge projects exceed probably the cost of importing food by 10 times.
    Juche ideology.