ROK’s planned food aid for DPRK tied up

According to Yonhap:

South Korea’s planned shipment of its first food aid to North Korea in years has hit a snag due to sourcing difficulties, an official said Saturday.

The South has been preparing to send 10,000 tons of corn to the impoverished neighbor since mid-January, right after Pyongyang accepted its aid offer made months earlier. The shipment would mark Seoul’s first food assistance to the North since President Lee Myung-bak took office in early 2008.

The government has since approved a 4 billion won (US$3.5 million) budget to fund the assistance and notified the North of a shipping route, based on a plan to buy corn in China and ship it directly to the North from there.

“Considering shipping costs, it would make the most sense to send Chinese corn” to the North, a government official said on customary condition of anonymity.

The official said, however, that the plan has faltered because of China’s “grain export quota,” which places restrictions on food exports in order to meet the country’s rising domestic demand.

The delay has raised concern that the planned aid may not be delivered by the time the North needs it the most — usually between March and May when food shortages in the country worsen — because it usually takes at least a month after the purchase is made for such to be delivered.

But the government official said that he believes the problem will be resolved soon, though he did not elaborate.

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South Korea’s planned food aid for North Korea hits snag


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