A Weather Forecast Which Caused Worry Not Joy

It was early July 1965, a time when Korea was suffering the worst drought in living memory.

An official from the Hydrometeorological Service was collecting data from local observation stations in various parts of the country. To his delight, the results showed that the high atmospheric pressure, which had been lingering over the country for several months, was giving way to low pressure.

President Kim Il Sung had phoned him time after time to ask about the weather forecast, as he was so worried over the ongoing damage to farming. So the official decided to stay in his office, and await another call.

The phone rang.

The official picked up the phone and heard Kim Il Sung’s voice.

“It’s getting cloudy outside. Where is the low atmospheric pressure coming from?”

“From Inner Mongolia.”

“Inner Mongolia?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“It is regrettable that it is not coming from the south.”

In previous years low pressure had come from the south around this time of the year, heralding heavy rains.

The official said confidently, “Sir, it will start raining tomorrow.”

Kim Il Sung checked the precipitation data and asked:

“Do you think the low pressure will affect the whole of the country?”

“It seems to me that it is so weak that it will extend only to the central part of the country.”

“Only to the central part of the country?”

“Yes, Sir.”

After a pause, Kim Il Sung said in a gloomy tone, “I am so worried…”

The official could not understand why the news disappointed him.

“It is regrettable that the low pressure will extend only to the middle of Korea. Our compatriots in the southern half should also eat rice, shouldn’t they? The drought has lasted there for several months.”

Then the official understood what was worrying Kim Il Sung and said: “Sir, low pressure will come from the south in a fortnight.”

But he said, still worried: “In a fortnight? Every day counts.” He hung up the phone.

The following day the long-awaited rain came, bringing joy to the people in the northern half of the country. But Kim Il Sung still cast worried eyes southwards.

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