Ambassador Liu Hongcai Visits Sepho Grassland Reclamation Project
Sino-NK has been paying the Sepho Grassland Reclamation Project in North Korean Gangwon Province attention throughout 2013; however, first hand accounts of the project remain hard to come by. Lo, enter the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Liu Hongcai, who (perhaps astonishingly, given reports of poor Chinese-DPRK relations) visited the site on October 17 this year.
Fortunately, the website of the Chinese embassy in Pyongyang subsequently published a detailed report of the visit, a number of interesting pictures and what, for North Korea, amounts to a blitz of new data and intriguing details. Chief Editor Adam Cathcart has translated the entire report, which plays an important role in the featured essay, “Sino-NK 2013 Rewind: Sepho and the ‘Quiet Charisma’ of Grassland Reclamation.”
The article translation is as follows:
On October 17, PRC Ambassador to North Korea Liu Hongcai and some diplomats from the PRC embassy went to the Sepho Grassland Reclamation Project in DPRK’s Gangwon province for an on-site inspection. People working for the DPRK Foreign Ministry, Kangwon Province Foreign Affairs Department and the Sepho District Economic Management Committee also accompanied the ambassador.
According to [the North Koreans’] introduction, the Sepho District lies 70 kilometers south of Kangwon Province Provincial capital Wonsan City. From south to north, it stretches 27 kilometers, and is six kilometers wide east to west. It has abundant wind and frequent, heavy rain, with strongly acidic soil. It is a difficult, inconvenient place for farming. Following from the plans of the Workers’ Party of Korea Central Committee, the Sepho Grassland Reclamation Project was initiated in November 2012. Shock Brigade workers hailing from all corners of the DPRK came to help in the opening up and reclaiming of the waste land.
Having experienced bitter struggle, within one year of reclamation work being completed, the face of the grasslands has now reached more than 50,000 hectares. They are cultivating Jerusalem artichokes and all kinds of grasses. They have started breeding cattle, lamb, pigs, and other livestock. Locally, workers are still urgently advancing the construction of the Management Centre, agronomy research office, tannery and homes for herdsman, gardens and greenhouses; construction is ongoing. According to the plans by 2017 the Sepho grasslands will be able to produce upwards of 10,000 tonnes of fodder and each year producing more than 1000 tons of all types of meat.
The Ambassador, walking and looking throughout, listened directly to the introduction of the North Korean side, carefully understanding the progress of the project, including the management techniques for the grassland, the types of grain production, the situation of grass drinks, and other useful small projects. He congratulated and expressed his wish to the Korean side that at an early date they will achieve the goals of construction of the Workers’ Party of Korea Central Committee in order to develop the DPRK’s economy and score the great achievement of improving the people’s livelihoods. The Chinese ambassador wished to advance joint Sino-Korean grassland development and further cooperation to a higher and deeper level.
Source: “Ambassador Liu Hongcai’s On-Site Inspection of DPRK Sepho Grassland Reclamation Project” [刘洪才大使参观考察朝洗浦丘陵牧场改造工程], Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the DPRK, October 19, 2013. Translation by Adam Cathcart.