A nationwide drought in North Korea that threatened crops and prompted a nationwide food shortage appears to be letting up. Rainfall in June has alleviated some of the pressure surrounding crop harvests after a particularly dry winter, according to a new report.
“North Korea had suffered from severe drought across the nation until May. But it seemed that since June, the situation has considerably eased,” Jeong Joon-hee, spokesman for South Korea’s Unification Ministry, the government body that deals with communication between Pyongyang and Seoul, said Friday in a press conference, according to Yonhap news agency.
Average precipitation in May hit only about half the levels recorded the year before. By June, rainfall had increased to almost 90 percent of the precipitation levels that the country had last year.
Though the worst appears to be over, areas of the country's northeast and midwest were still reeling from the drought. “Some provinces such as Hwanghae and Hamgyeong provinces are still grappling with prolonged drought, which warrants a close watch,” Jeong said.
During the peak of the dry season in May, North Korean state media made an “urgent” push for increased agriculture, fishing and husbandry as the food shortage loomed. The country made calls for greater quantities of “quality consumer goods, school things and foodstuff,” according to a report by Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Worker’s Party of Korea.
North Korea’s drought was predicted earlier in the year after an analysis of weather data from last winter, the United Nations World Food Program deputy director John Aylieff told the Washington Post. Though winter harvest makes up only 5 percent of food harvests for the country, it represents a crucial resource during the country’s “lean season” between May and August before summer crops can be harvested, Aylieff explained.