Hyesan is getting spruced up with some funds from the center.
Meanwhile, the ever-vigilant Juchechosunmanse digs up a real find:
Back in October North Korea watchers were perplexed by the fires in the DPRK’s northeast, namely in Ryanggang-do and Hamgyong-bukdo. The Daily NK has just reported [ed. in Chinese] that the forest fires were caused by people burning corn roots to get rid of insects and worms in areas such as Pungseo-gun in Ryanggang-do. Apparently it is part of a concerted effort to boost food production and everyone seems to be pressed to get ready for next year’s spring planting.
I rather rudely excerpted most of his enlightening post, but I do so because I’m quite glad to get this information. I accordingly spent some time with the Daily NK’s Chinese page and have hopes to get a translation out soon. The focus of the article, I should add, is that autumn harvest activity has been taking place sooner than usual, and that rural cadre are really bringing the hammer down to get food production up in whatever primitive ways they can. Of course, fuel is almost non-existent, so they have to use cows or human labor to plow the fields, which are now freezing up.
Meanwhile, as it deals with environmental concerns, the Global Times carries this bizarrely-edited piece by a foreign observer in China entitled “Peaceful weather manipulation not a worry.” Now why is it that most of us refrain from submitting manuscripts to Xinhua again? Who wouldn’t love their name appearing underneath a headline like that?
Fortunately the mainland Chinese press gives a nod to the Daily NK story not by covering the emerging North Korean famine and resultant forest fires, but by talking about forest fires caused by a downed plane in ROK’s South Cholla province.
And who needs news about the DPRK when you can argue with anonymous foes about the Korean Wave? Not that they ever stop, but there is another long online spat on the Huanqiu’s BBS that starts with a post entitled: “You who swear at the ‘Korean idiots’: Do you truly understand the history of the Republic of Korea?” I suppose this counts as debate.
Finally, for comparison, see my previous analysis of the North Korean forest fires story in the Chinese press.