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View more articles by Dagyum Ji
Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
Update at 18:30 KST: This article has been updated to include new photos from the Asia Pacific Office of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
Damage caused by a typhoon which hit North Korea over the weekend is smaller than initially feared, the country’s ruling party daily reported on Tuesday, with the recovery effort said to be proceeding at a “rapid speed” following the on-site guidance of top officials.
Reporting that the damage caused by Typhoon Lingling, which made land early afternoon on Saturday, was less than expected, the Rodong Sinmun featured extensive coverage of recovery works in affected areas on its fourth page.
In the aftermath of the storm, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Sunday reported that crops “fell down, inundated or buried in 46,200 hectares of farmland,” adding that “more than 460 houses of 210 blocks and public buildings of 15 blocks were completely or partly destroyed or inundated.”
But the Rodong Sinmun reported on Tuesday that senior officials of the DPRK’s State Emergency Disaster Committee had assessed the damage to be “smaller than expected.”
“Recovery works are proceeding at a rapid speed,” Kang Il Sop, who serves as the chairman of the State Emergency Disaster Committee, said.
This swift progress and small-scale damage, he explained, was thanks to the fact that the whole party, army, and people had contributed to recovery efforts.
In the interview, vice-chairman Pak Se Hwan reported that officials from the Party Central Committee and the Cabinet are “commanding the recovery battle” on the ground in stricken areas.
The military and the people, the vice-chairman said, were jointly contributing to the “battle to recover areas suffering from crop damage in South and North Hwanghae provinces, which were hit by strong winds.”
In Kumchon county, Pak continued, residents and soldiers worked together to restore destroyed telephone poles.
A command was also established to rebuild destroyed houses, with trains reportedly delivering cement in accordance with the “emergency measures of the Cabinet.”
Sectors including the metal-working industry were given orders to ensure the supply of goods which are necessary for damage recovery, with units including the Chollima Steel Complex and the Sunchon Cement Complex reportedly increasing the production of steel materials and cement.
Another vice-chairman, Nam Chol Kwang, was quoted as saying that the electric power industry had also stepped-up the “struggle to urgently restore transmission lines and ensure the provision of electricity without cessation to stricken areas.”
“Transport vehicles loaded with medical supplies and various preventive drugs for the people… arrived in the damaged areas.”
NORTH AND SOUTH HWANGHAE PROVINCES HIT HARDEST
Reporting on the damage, the Rodong Sinmun reported that farming areas in South Hwanghae province had been hit particularly hard, with crops including rice and corn affected and fields and paddies inundated in Yonan, Paechon, Chongdan, and Kangryong counties.
Officials and workers “are pushing ahead with the struggle to minimize crop damage” in the province, the newspaper reported.
Under the instruction of the provincial party committee, officials in the province have helped “party members and workers deeply recognize… the spirit of the emergency enlarged meeting of the Party Central Military Commission” in the affected areas — a reference to an event chaired by Kim Jong Un ahead of the storm’s arrival last week.
Friday saw North Korean leader Kim Jong Un convene a meeting in which he discussed the state’s “emergency measures” to prevent damage by Typhoon Lingling, then expected to “seriously affect” the whole country.
During the meeting, Kim ordered that the Korean People’s Army (KPA) be the “main force in the campaign for preventing the typhoon damage.”
The Rodong Sinmun on Tuesday reported that KPA soldiers were also engaged in the “struggle to recover” damage in South Hwanghae province.
North Korean officials are visiting the stricken areas, the party daily said, continuing that the county “took urgent measures to draw water from flooded fields and paddies.”
The typhoon also caused major crop damage in Yontan County, North Hwanghae Province, the Rodong Sinmun reported, adding that “intensive recovery” has been carried out since Saturday evening.
Senior state functionaries “thoroughly drew up measures” to prevent crop damage and devised “measures for intensive recovery in the stricken areas after the typhoon passed,” it continued, saying the county had been able to “remove the trail of damage for the two days.”
State-run outlet Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Tuesday also reported that rice and corn in tens of thousands of hectares of farmland have been restored in damaged areas including North and South Hwanghae provinces.
Tens of thousands of workers, the report said, cleaned up 120-kilometer-long roads in Pyoksong, Changyon, and Songhwa counties, among others, in South Hwanghae province. In Pyoksong county, it claimed, destroyed buildings were “completely restored.”
In North Hwanghae Province, the renovation of several hundred meters of roads between Sariwon city and Unpa county, damaged bridges, and houses with blown-off roofs was completed.
Hundreds of roadside trees were erected or newly planted in Kaesong city, the KCNA reported, while repair work to damaged roofs was finished.
The repair of public building roofs was completed in Kwangwon and North Hamgyong province, it said, adding that works to restore the damage to roads, embankments, and crops were “being actively promoted.”
Edited by James Fretwell and Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: KCNA