Irrigation Water for South Korea

Nineteen forty-six was the first year after Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule. With the arrival of spring, the Yonbaek Plain was turned green with grass on the ridges and at the foot of the hills. However, no peasant was to be seen in the 13 600-hectare part of the Yonbaek Plain to the south of the Military Demarcation Line on the 38th Parallel. Because the MDL cut the irrigation waterway from Kuam and Ryeui reservoirs in the north, farming was impossible there.

The peasants on the plain were naive enough to believe the propaganda of the American Military Advisory Group to south Korea and the Syngman Rhee puppet clique, that the north would never supply them with irrigation water.

Then one day water flowed in torrents to the plain along the irrigation ditches from the north, which was celebrating the agrarian reform.

On receiving the report on the state of farming on the plain, President Kim Il Sung had taken steps for the fields to be irrigated with water from the Kuam and Ryeui reservoirs. The water supplied to the plain held 99% of the whole impoundment of the two reservoirs. The supply lasted until the following year, when the north was prevented from continuing it by the obstructive schemes of the AMAG and south Korean regime. In the spring of 1948, when the shortage of irrigation water turned the rice seedlings yellow on the southern part of the Yonbaek Plain, the survival of tens of thousands of peasants there hung in the balance.

“We should not hesitate in such a dire situation. We should notify General Kim Il Sung of our situation and petition him to supply water to us.” Saying this, in early May 800 representatives risked their lives to cross into the north over the MDL.

On reading their letter, Kim Il Sung looked southward, lost in thought, before saying to the official who had conveyed the letter to him: We should supply them with water to irrigate their fields despite the obstructive schemes of the US imperialists.

Soon afterwards, on June 26, 1948, the People’s Committee of North Korea adopted Resolution No. 155, titled, Resolution on Supplying Irrigation Water from Kuam and Ryeui Reservoirs to the Yonbaek Area in South Korea. The resolution ratified by Kim Il Sung in his capacity as the chairman of the committee stipulated that the irrigation water should be supplied to the Yonbaek area south of the 38th Parallel from June 27, 1948, in response to the request of the south Korean peasants.

The irrigation water was life-giving water not only for the peasants of the Yonbaek Plain but also for all the other south Korean people.

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