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Korea Drenched by Monsoon Rains Amid Century’s Worst Drought

Monsoon rains drenched the Korean peninsula after the worst drought in a century drove up vegetable prices in the south while threatening crop production in the north.

The rains began in the late afternoon yesterday, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration. Seoul, South Korea’s capital, recorded 69.5 millimeters (2.7 inches) of rain as of 4 p.m., show estimates posted on the agency’s website. The North’s capital, Pyongyang, received more than 90 millimeters, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported today.

Prices of napa cabbage, radishes, onions and green onions - - four main ingredients of Kimchi, the national dish -- surged 138 percent from a year earlier in South Korea, according to Hyundai Research Institute in Seoul. In the north, the driest period in 105 years in Pyongyang and the harshest conditions since the 1960s in surrounding provinces threaten harvests including wheat, barley and potatoes, KCNA said in dispatches earlier this month.

South Korea has spent $43 million to bring water to areas affected by the dry weather this month, with a further $60 million planned for drought mitigation, according to the agriculture ministry. About 4,900 hectares (12,100 acres) of farmland are affected, mostly in the western part of South Korea, according to the government.

Crops were withering across more than 30,000 hectares in the North Korean provinces of North Hwanghae and South Phyongan after water levels in rivers and reservoirs sank, KCNA said on June 23. The drought also caused electricity shortages, it said.

About 1,000 hectares of rice paddies near the North Korean border city of Gaeseong, where the two countries jointly operate a special economic zone, had dried up and 600 hectares of other farmland was parched, the news agency said on June 20.

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