The Ryongnam area in Kangdong County, Pyongyang, is covered in thick forests of red larch, trifoliate pine, chestnut and Evodia daniellii.
“When Kim Jong Su (pictured) started working as a forest ranger, the forests in his charge were almost ‘naked’ since the country was having hard times,” said Kim Sun Chol, manager of the county forest management station. “He has turned over 1 000 hectares of deforested mountain areas into green forests in his nearly 20-year-long career as a ranger. He also helped produce thousands of cubic metres of timber in over 10 years, while growing hundreds of thousands of saplings every year.”
According to him, Kim Jong Su who was formerly an army officer at a front-line unit had a compelling reason for becoming a forest ranger.
When he was doing his military service, Chairman Kim Jong Il visited his unit and was so satisfied to see the trees the soldiers planted in the surrounding mountains that he gave them an honourable title of a “unit of patriots”.
At that time, Jong Su made up his mind to spend his whole life conserving green forests of the country.
As soon as he settled down in the post, he acquainted himself with the conditions of afforestation of the area and worked out his master plan for reforesting the treeless mountains which pierced his heart at first sight.
With the thought that seeds might be more important than anything else in order to plant forests in well over a hundred hectares, he purchased them from other counties and produced saplings while learning relevant skills.
He climbed mountains to work out the area to be planted with trees in the daytime and acquired knowledge from books about forestry at night.
“On a spring day I heard some shovelling noise in the yard and opened the kitchen door, only to see my husband planting saplings in the kitchen garden,” recalled Kim’s wife Ri Yong Sun. “I was very upset to see my husband, who always ranged in mountains without caring about household affairs, turning even the small vegetable garden into a sapling plot.”
When she asked him if trees were more valuable than the wife and children to him, Kim said people can cry when they are ill but trees cannot, so it is the ranger’s responsibility to take care of them.
He would say “trees cannot cry” as he stroked a worm-eaten leaf, looked at a giant larch or saw a broken branch and a lump of resin.
He built a tree nursery at the highest place of a mountain slope in keeping with the characteristics of larch and produced hundreds of thousands of larch saplings every year.
It is said that people plant crops to benefit in one year but plant trees after ten years. Kim analyzed the soil conditions of mountains in detail and planted trees in a systematic and scientific way on the principle of planting right trees on the right soil.
As he worked devotedly planting and tending trees even in bad soils and cracks on rocks, many people came to help him.
A deputy to the Pyongyang municipal people’s assembly, Kim now enjoys great public respect as a Meritorious Person of Socialist Patriotism and exemplary forest ranger well known across the country.