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North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Picks Up a Shovel to Plant Trees

North Korea’s Arbor Day, known as Tree-Planting Day, showcases Kim Jong Un’s strong committment to forest restration
Images of him planting trees have been released to the publicve been released to the public

Source: MBC News

While North Korea’s Kim Jong Un may seem solely focused on military power, he is also passionate about tree-planting. There is known to be a national anniversary that he participates in in person, which raises curiosity about the underlying intentions.

Just like in South Korea, North Korea also has a tree-planting day. On Tree-Planting Day, March 2nd, various provinces, cities, and counties across North Korea participate in tree-planting activities. Common citizens and high-ranking North Korean officials participated, including Kim Jong Un.

In 2022, Kim planted trees in Pyongyang’s Hwasong District with participants of the 2nd Conference of Secretaries of Primary Committees of the Workers’ Party of Korea, his sunglasses-wearing, shovel-wielding appearance making headlines.

Source: MBC News

Although Kim Jong Un has not officially attended Tree-Planting Day for two consecutive years, he continues to promote the importance of tree planting.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency reported last year that “workers and laborers in the districts, military, and factories of Pyongyang are working to increase the country’s natural resources and improve the landscape of the homeland.” This year, they encouraged, “We need to plant fast-growing trees to carry forward the 20×10 regional development plan promptly.”

On this year’s Tree-Planting Day, the Rodong Sinmun emphasized that “although we celebrate Tree-Planting Day every year, this year’s Tree-Planting Day is different” and said, “It is a truly meaningful day that intensifies our determination to fight to open a new era of a powerful nation.”

Source: VOA

According to the Ministry of Unification, Kim Jong Un pointed out in a 2012 speech that “the forest situation in our country is serious.” He expressed his determination to reforest all deforested mountains within 10 years.

North Korea has suffered severe deforestation due to economic hardship and famine. Despite 80% of its territory being forested, excessive deforestation causes frequent natural disasters such as droughts, floods, and landslides.

Since then, Kim has emphasized forest restoration in his yearly New Year’s speeches and promoted it as a major policy. In 2015, he specifically directed a forest development project.

While electricity is supplied to Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, the majority of regions still rely on wood.

Source: VOA

Despite North Korea’s efforts, many barren areas remain. According to surveys, 20-30% of North Korean forests, equivalent to 2-3 million hectares, have been damaged.

The Deforestation Index released by British crisis management company Maplecroft revealed North Korea is the third most critical among 180 countries worldwide. Reports from the Asian Development Bank and the UN have also revealed that the percentage of forests in North Korea has drastically decreased from 68% in 1990 to 47% in 2010 over 20 years.

Domestic North Korean experts analyze, “It’s almost impossible for North Korea to succeed in forest creation on its own.”

Source: MBC News

Meanwhile, North Korea’s Tree-Planting Day was originally on April 6th.

However, the date was changed to March 2nd, 1999, to commemorate the forest creation plan proposed by President Kim Il Sung and Chairman Kim Jong Il on March 2, 1946, on Moran Hill in Pyongyang.

On Tree-Planting Day, North Korean citizens participate in tree planting and forest protection activities.

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