April 29 (UPI) -- North Korea's top university has been testing artificial rainfall since 2017, according to a South Korean press report.
NK Economy reported Wednesday North Korean scientists at Kim Il Sung University have been developing artificial rainfall to fight drought, a persistent problem for a country facing seasonal food shortages.
Kim Il Sung University recently disclosed ongoing experiments with artificial rainfall. The research has been gaining traction since November 2017, the report said.
Last year North Korea said the country endured the worst drought in 37 years and urged ordinary North Koreans to prevent further damage to crops. U.N. agencies later said 10 million North Koreans were in dire need of food assistance.
The North Korean university claimed reagents used to change the amount of precipitation falling from clouds have been developed. The weather modifying chemicals are undergoing "several outdoor tests, on different clouds."
Chemicals used in cloud seeding were also "self-developed" in North Korea and have undergone tests for two years and six months, the university said.
Artificial precipitation may have been carried out using rockets in 2018, according to NK Economy, citing a North Korean paper making the claim.
"Artificial rainfall technology can alter adverse weather conditions to prevent drought and hail damage, secure water resources for electricity generation and clear up environmental pollution to contribute to the country's economic development and people's livelihoods," the university said.
Last year, Korean Workers' Party paper Rodong Sinmun said "water is needed now more than ever" and that the country was locked in a "fierce battle" to prevent drought damage.
North Korea is promoting the sciences at a time when Kim Jong Un remains out of the public spotlight.
During a Politburo meeting on April 11, Pyongyang acknowledged the risk of viral infection, or COVID-19, "cannot be resolved in a short period of time."
Kim has not been seen since that meeting, leaving senior officials, including Premier Kim Jae Ryong, to attend to field guidance duties, according to South Korean news service CBS No Cut News.