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Al Jazeera English | Apr 11
South Korea offered an olive branch to the North today, even as its military was on high alert over a possible missile launch. A top minister said ...
Still in China, four provinces in China's heartland, which produce much of China's wheat, have been stricken by drought. Not only is the region dry, it's also very hot. For example, temperatures are hitting 95 degrees in parts of Hubei province. Almost a thousand rivers have dried up. And as many as 800,000 people are short on drinking water. Meteorologists are predicting rainstorms by the end of the month, but it's not clear whether there'll be enough to save the crops.
China's neighbor South Korea is also experiencing a drought. It's the worst to hit the country since record keeping began 105 years ago. Almost 28,000 citizens are being deployed to help water rice paddies and farm fields. But there's one place that doesn't need the help: a golf course in the southern part of the country. Which, according to South Korean broadcaster MBC, isn't making local farmers very happy.
This is a field in Haenam county, South Jeolla province, Korea. The rice paddy is all dried up. Rice planting should have already ended, but it hasn't started yet, because there is no water. Nearby, a golf course. Sprinklers water the grass constantly. The water is from a nearby reservoir.
Kim Su-kyung, Farmer:
I feel more despondent than furious. The water from the reservoir is not being provided to the farmers, but to the golf course.
The Korea Rural Community Corporation signed a contract with the golf course on June 15th to provide 560,000 tons of water per year, and the paddy field is not included in the contract. The Korea Rural Community Corporation says there's no problem providing water to the golf course. It says if the reservoir falls below 62 percent of capacity, it'll consult with the local farmers on whether to provide water to the golf course.
Korea Rural Community Corporation Representative:
The golf course officially asked for the water, so legally, we can't give the water to the farmers.
But farmers are complaining. They say it's ridiculous that this area is not allowed to use the reservoir water, because it's not a part of the water supply region, especially when other reservoirs are all dry.
Lee Young-hyun, Farmer:
Strangely, this area is excluded from the water supply area. But water goes to the golf course, not here, in this drought.
The worst drought in 100 years has severely damaged crops nationwide, but the Korea Rural Community Corporation is only interested in selling water.
The same drought has hit North Korea, where the government is predicting that the country's wheat and barley production will drop by 20 percent this year.