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*** TOPIC OF THE WEEK (Part 2)

North Korea Completes Biggest Ever Tideland Reclamation Project

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea completed one of its gigantic reclamation projects last week, damming the sea in a northwest area to turn the vast tidal flat into a large-scale agricultural, fishing and industrial site.

   The reclamation of the Taegyedo Tideland on the northern tip of the west coast has been successfully completed as a "monumental edifice in the era of Songun," the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on June 30, referring to its "military-first" era.

   Work on the project for reclaiming 8,800 hectares of land, the largest ever in the history of tideland reclamation in North Korea, was initiated by the late North Korean founder Kim Il-sung and succeeded by his son and present leader Kim Jong-il.

   In past years, North Korean media has highly praised the reclamation project that was possible "due to the encouragement of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il," who gave field guidance to the areas that cover the counties of Cholsan, Sonchon and Kwaksan in North Pyongan Province. The newly reclaimed area is similar in size to a lowland county in North Korea.

   Releasing a detailed report on the Taegyedo Tideland Reclamation Project, the KCNA said the reclaimed area connects Taedasas Islet, Kacha Islet, Soyondong Islet and Taegye Islet in the West Sea, with dikes extending several kilometers.

   With the completion of the project, kicked off in the early 1980s, North Korea's map was changed. "As a result, the country's map was changed, an asset to bring about great progress in developing the nation's agriculture and improving the standard of people's living provided and an arable land equivalent to an area of a county has been obtained," the KCNA said.

   "This sharply reduced the indentation of the shoreline of Yomju County and Cholsan County of North Pyongan Province," it reported. "As a result, there appeared salterns and fish breeding farms along with a big socialist farm in the nation's leading reclaimed tideland."

   A ceremony for the completion of the reclamation project took place at the site on June 30, with the attendance of Premier Choe Yong-rim, Secretary of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of (North) Korea (WPK) Kim Ki-nam, Vice-Premier Kim Rak-hui, Minister of Agriculture Kim Chang-sik and other officials and workers concerned.

   Choe Yong-rim conveyed a congratulatory message from the WPK Central Committee to the builders and workers and highly praised them for having successfully built another monumental edifice by "displaying the matchless popular heroism and noble self-sacrificing spirit in hearty response to the Party's grand nature-harnessing plan."

   The message expressed the belief that all the builders and their helpers, single-mindedly united around leader Kim Jong-il, will have greater success in carrying out their revolutionary tasks and thus creditably live up to the great trust and expectation of the party. In 2009, Kim Jong-il provided field guidance at the reclamation site, his second visit following one in 2008.

   Thanks to the tide embankments, seashore farms and villages in various counties are completely freed from damage by tidal waves and salty seawater, the news agency explained. "And a long ring road linking Tasa Workers' District, Yomju County to Jangsong Workers' District, Cholsan County was built along the strong dikes."

   "The project as huge as the West Sea Barrage in terms of size and the volume of work and equivalent to the undertaking to obtain the same arable land as that in a lowland county required the fullest display of mental power as it was Herculean task to create things from nothing, harnessing wild nature at a time when everything was in short supply," the KCNA said.

   "President Kim Il-sung matured a grandiose plan for reclaiming tideland on the West Coast while waging bloody battles against the Japanese imperialists and formed a group for surveying tideland when the war was at its height," according to the KCNA report.

   "Leader Kim Jong-il possessed of the iron will to accomplish the patriotic cause for eternal prosperity initiated by the President visited tideland reclamation sites two times when the above-said projects were making dynamic progress," it said.

   The reclamation project was faced with obstacles in the past. In 1997, for instance, the dikes of Taegye islet were destroyed by a tsunami, and the restoration work had been ongoing ever since.
"When the severest tidal waves in hundreds of years hit the whole area along the west coast on Aug. 21, 1997, the builders there waged a persevering struggle, rebuilding broken sections of Breakwater No. 1 between Taedasa Islet and Kacha Islet and Breakwater No. 2 between Kacha Islet and Soyondong Islet and finally relinking Breakwater No. 3 on June 11, 2005 and finishing the first-phase damming up project," the KCNA said.

   By July 2007, the builders successfully completed Breakwaters Nos. 2 and 4 and completed Breakwater No. 1 on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the DPRK (North Korea), the news agency said. "They built Breakwater No. 3 covering hundreds of thousands of square meters with feldspar through their patriotic devoted drive."

   The Taegyedo Tideland Reclamation Project was finally completed with the completion of Breakwater No. 3 ahead of schedule, the report said. "Thanks to the patriotic enthusiasm and heroic struggle of the builders, such inner network project as installation of draining gates and building of embankment in the middle and lower reaches of a river were simultaneously carried out, turning thousands of hectares of tideland into a fertile land.

   Mun Pong-ryong, director of the Tideland Reclamation Guidance Bureau, said in a speech at the ceremony that Kim Il-sung opened a bright prospect for reclaiming the tideland long ago, formed a powerful reclamation force, clarified the orientation and ways to dynamically push forward the reclamation.

   He also noted that Kim Jong-il visited the reclamation site on June 13, 2008 and took the "revolutionary measures to push ahead with the tideland reclamation." The North Korean leader again visited the reclamation site in July last year and was satisfied with the fact that the gigantic nature-harnessing project had been basically completed, according to the report.