Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 16, 1974 · Page 83
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 83

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 16, 1974
Page 83
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Mavor talks to work sianjr on wav In haul grass row wooden, bridge--the only link between Mukhyun- ri and the outside world -with a steel-reinforced, cement bridge for vehicles. (The Seoul government provided cement and steel for the job.) c - + Built a network, of roads for the movement of farm machinery throughout the cooperative field. ··_· *· Remolded the hodgepodge maze of individually owned rice paddies into a square-shaped field geared to modern farming. »· Built a village meeting hall, an assembly square, a community bathouse, a laundry center, an equipment warehouse, a dam for drinking water, water, pipeline hookups of methane gas from animal waste, stables and ranges for oxen, milk cows and other animals, and a produce sale shop. - *· Razed most of the rundown mud huts and replaced them with sturdy and .com- . fprtable homes. The traditional rice-straw thatch has been replaced-by government-subsidized tile roofs, electricity has been brought to all homes. * Switched from barley to strawberry as their second-" ary crop to triple revenue, planted 4,000 chestnut trees, and 3,000 plum trees in the hills, and started a farm of mulberry trees for silkworms. *· Began raising oxeji, milk cows, pigs, and chickens along with alpha hay. +· The results of these self- help projects are self-evident in the rising income of cooperative participants. In the pre-Saemaul days, the Ha family netted 150,000 won: $375" a year. (400 won equal $1.) This year its annual income will reach 400,000 won ($1,000) for the four- member household. Next year Ha expects to double' that income.. The . village cooperative's financial report pointed out its per capita income in the pre-Saemaul year was 35,414 won ($88.50) The figure for. this past year amounts to 65.773 won ($164) and 236,882 won ($592) is projected for 1975. Young Ju Lee, 42, the man of the six-member family, became the village's first elected mayor last year. "Our struggle was very, very hard in the : beginning," he said. . . ... "In 1971 we first wantedio. build a new bridge. There was much sacrifice. Every- body in the village pitched in and built the bridge by their own hands. We worked day and night for two months and -- at night, under torch light." The completion of the first modern bridge for Mukhyun- ri was-the turning point for the cooperative drive. Last winter, with hard-won self- confidence, the whole village turned to their grass- roofed mud huts. "We lived in tents while building our new homes," he recalled. "There was much suffering in the spring when rain came, but we endured." The Mukhyun effort drew attention of the Seoul government. The community was chosen as a model for the movement and given an interest-free 29-million-won loan for future projects to be paid back in 15 years. K Saemaul worker Joan Jung Choi of the Interior Department in Seoul emphasized the Saemaul thrust must come from the grassroots to be productive. The government's role is that of logistic and technical support, said Choi, who has been working with Mukhyun-ri ever since Saemaul was launched. In the initial stage of Sae- maul, the national government supplied an average of 500 bags of cement and steel and iron materials for each village for use in construction of bridges and community facilities. Only five years ago, Choi said, the Barley Pass was a haunting reality for Mu- khyun-ri. "The Saemaul movement and the multi-crop system have made it an ancient history." Choi observed: "If these people had lived as they did for^he last 500 years, they wouldn't have improved their lot for another 500 years. "They now realize their own land has infinite possibilities for extra income." In'the Saemual headquarters in Seoul, Director Jong .Ho Choi said the 1960's for Korea was a decade of economic growth. . . *;'. "'.· "The 1970s are going to be a decade of Saemaul to bridge the gap between the cities and the farming.vil- . lages." ·The whole movement, he explained, was not only designed to raise income for the peasants, but also conceived as a spearhead for generating cooperation and independence. "The government rewards model villages with various incentive measures including interest- free loans." Nationally, the Park gov- erment has allocated $41 .million for the first year of Saemaul, $36 million for 1972 and $43 for this year. And President Chung Hee Park, born to a poor peasant himself, has taken personal charge of the drive. His spokesman reported Park personally presides at monthly working sessions with cabinet members, department chiefs and banking leaders to receive detailed reports on Saemual. "Leaders of model communities are invited to take part in the policy -- making sessions with government officials,", the press secretary said. "The president digs the farmers and vice versa." In the heady industrial growth period of the '60s,' the pendulum swung too fast and too far to the urban sectors. The manufacturing sector grew at a dizzy rate of 17 per cent a year while the agricultural sector grew at 3.5 per cent. And because of the boom- Ing economy, South Koreans began eating more rice. Consequently, there has been a chronic shortage of rice. The national government has set a goal to make rice and barley self-sufficient by 1981, the year in which the nation hopes to reach $1,000 per capita income. In recent years, Park's regime implemented high- price support of rice to bolster the sagging-cural economy and to r preventthe accel-' 'crating rural-totrrban migration. The pace has been'-slowed considerably. Young farm hands lured to the bustle of big cities are returning to their villages. Saemaul chief Johfr Ho Choi said:. ··-··..'· "The most important lesson of this movement is that our farmers have gained the self-confidence that they can indeed make things happen . for their own better future." _ Yal Yo Ha summed up Saemaul this way: "We no longer worry about food, shelter and clothing, and the way ,we are making it, I can send my boy Jainyung (a 14-year-old middle school student) to college." Grass roof Suits are disappearing in U i k l i y u n - R i . . . State Magazine, June 16.1974 4nd new cement block homes are rapidly being built. CHARLESTON, W. V.4. 7m

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