North warns Seoul of water release

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North warns Seoul of water release

North Korea informed South Korea yesterday it might release water from a dam on the Imjin River because of heavy rain, according to the South’s Ministry of Unification.

Pyongyang promised in October to give advance warning of such releases to prevent a recurrence of a fatal flooding of the river a month earlier.

Some analysts said the warning may reflect a softening of its belligerency toward the South after the sinking of the Cheonan warship in March.

“North Korea informed us through the military information channel that if the rain continues to pour, it could release water from a dam in the upper area of the Imjin River after 8 p.m. tonight,” said Chun Hae-sung, spokesman of the ministry, told reporters.

The ministry said it informed related organizations including the Han River Flood Control Office to take necessary safety measures.

According to the Korea Meteorological Administration, the whole of North Korea has seen rain for three straight days since Friday.

On Sept. 6, 2009, the North released water from Hwanggang Dam, about 40 kilometers (24.85 miles) north of the military demarcation line, without notifying the South, which resulted in the deaths of six South Koreans camping at the river near Yeoncheon County, Gyeonggi. The Imjin River originates in the North and flows across the border into the Han River.

South Korea held a working-level meeting with North Korea on Oct. 14, 2009, to request the North warn it in advance before it releases water. The North accepted.


By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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