In South Korea, dozens of people and millions of farm animals — including more than two million chickens — have died during weeks of scorching temperatures above 40 C.
The Pyongyang government has urged North Koreans to “join the struggle” to prevent drought-like conditions from hampering food production in the already malnourished country, with state television warning that the heat is “taking a toll on the economy.”
“Rural areas across the country … are reporting damage to crops, including rice and corn, due to extremely high temperatures and drought,” it said in an editorial in the state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper.
The temperature was an unprecedented natural disaster, but not “insurmountable,” it added.
Fears are rising about the longer-term impact on the north’s already fragile economy.
North Korea yesterday called for Washington to ditch crippling economic sanctions as a reward for Pyongyang’s show of good faith in ending its nuclear weapons testing and transferring remains of U.S. soldiers killed in the Korean War between 1950 and 1953.
“There have been outrageous arguments coming out of the U.S. State Department that it won’t ease sanctions until a denuclearization is complete, and reinforcing sanctions is a way to raise its negotiating power,” Rodong Sinmun said.
Senior U.S. officials, including Admiral Harry Harris, the new ambassador to Seoul, have called for Pyongyang to start giving up its nuclear weapons before any breakthrough on sanctions.