North Welcomes Aid
North Korea’s Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Committee took a positive stance yesterday toward accepting humanitarian aid from South Korea, Yonhap News Agency reported.
“There’s no reason for us to reject flood relief from the South as long as it’s not politically motivated,” Kim Song-won, head of the committee said from Dandong, China.
The remark is the first positive comment from a North Korean official on flood relief from the South amid chilly inter-Korean relations following last month’s missile threats.
Hyundai to Deliver Aid for NK Flood Victims
Hyundai Asan, a South Korean company in charge of North Korean business projects, said Tuesday it will send relief goods to victims of flooding near a scenic mountain on the southeastern coast of the communist country.
From Wednesday to Saturday, Hyundai Asan will deliver 500 tons of cement and 200 tons of flour, worth about 100 million won ($104,000), by trucks across the inter-Korean border for North Korean victims in the inner part of Mount Kumgang, the company said. It would be the second relief delivery from South Korea after North Korea was devastated by torrential rains late last month.
On Monday, a pro-North Korea newspaper in Japan, the Chosun Sinbo, reported at least 549 North Koreans were killed and 295 others missing, hit by floods last month.
The casualty figures were seen as the highest so far in North Korea, one of the world’s most isolated nations. y
North wants aid, just not those noodles
Joong Ang Daily
August 10, 2006 ㅡ North Korea formally asked South Korean civic groups for humanitarian aid for its flood victims ― but it doesn’t want instant noodles.
The country said it does want construction materials, construction equipment, blankets and medicine, according to a fax sent from the communist country to a South Korean civic group. The message was the first formal request from the North seeking aid. The North Korean Committee for Implementation of the June 15 Joint Declaration sent the message to its South Korean counterpart yesterday, thanking the civic groups here for helping the North’s flood victims. In the message, North Korea specified what they prefer to be included in the aid package. Instant noodles and clothes were singled out as less-wanted items.
The South Korean committee will meet with its North Korean counterpart tomorrow at the Mount Kumgang resort to further discuss assistance. The South Korean committee has launched a fundraising drive for North Korean flood victims. Aid packages by some civic groups have already been sent to the North, and more were on their way yesterday from Incheon.
Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok is scheduled to meet today with Han Wan-sang, South Korea’s Red Cross chief, to discuss the government’s flood relief program for the North. Floor leaders of the five political parties will also meet today to discuss the aid to the North.
Government to give aid, rice, to the North
Joong Ang Daily
After consultation with the South Korean Red Cross, the government has agreed to provide an aid package including rice to help North Korean flood victims, a Unification Ministry official said yesterday. The government will announce today its official participation in an emergency relief program for the North, led by the Red Cross and civic groups here.
After the North fired seven missiles last month, the South withheld its previously promised rice and fertilizer aid in protest.
In his meeting with Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok, South Korea’s Red Cross president, Han Wan-sang, asked the government to help send goods to benefit North Korean flood victims. Mr. Han said rice and construction materials are such items. Mr. Lee agreed to that proposal.
The government and the Red Cross will discuss further the shipment schedule and amount of aid.
Mr. Han was quoted by Yonhap News Agency yesterday as saying the aid package will be prepared by the end of next week.
Floor leaders of political parties, including the conservative Grand Nationals, also met yesterday to discuss the need for humanitarian aid to the North. They encouraged the government to send food, medicines and construction materials. A Grand National Party spokesman said that the food aid should include rice, although strict monitoring should follow to make sure the grain is provided to flood victims in urgent need.
The governing and ruling parties also agreed to approve a supplementary budget for the aid if necessary.
Seoul offers W10b in aid to N. Korea
South Korea will contribute 10 billion won ($10.5 million) to civilian relief efforts for flood-hit North Korea, an official said yesterday.
The contribution is part of an aid package that Seoul plans to give to the North, reversing an earlier decision to suspend aid in protest against the North’s missile launches last month.
Besides the contribution, the South also plans to ship official aid supplies to the North via the Red Cross.
The decision came at a policy coordination meeting between the government and the governing Uri Party, which was attended by Seoul’s point man on North Korean affairs, Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok, as well as Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook.
Earlier this week, North Korea asked for help from the South to recover from devastating floods in mid-July that left at least 549 people dead and 295 missing.
The North had previously refused South Korean aid from the Red Cross, saying it would take care of the problem itself.
The Unification Ministry is to allocate the money from its inter-Korean cooperation fund, which will be used to match the funds raised by each civic organization, the ruling party official said.
A ministry official said civic organizations have so far raised over 9.8 billion won in funds and goods. Other ministry officials said the fund will be used to purchase emergency relief aid, such as rice, flour, medicine and equipment.
The government held a meeting with civic organizations yesterday to decide on the size of its support for each civic organization.
The ministry and the South Korean Red Cross agreed Thursday to provide large amounts of assistance, mainly rice, that would be “substantial enough” to help flood-hit North Korea, according to Red Cross chief Han Wan-sang.
Rep. Noh Woong-rae, a vice floor leader of the ruling Uri Party, hinted Friday that the Red Cross aid may amount to more than 70 billion won worth of goods.
“(The government) gave 70 billion won worth of support (to the North) through its Red Cross when the Ryongchon incident” took place, Noh said, referring to an explosion at a train station in a North Korean town bordering China in April 2004, which left over 160 people killed and thousands injured.
“This (the previous amount) would be considered in determining the size of its aid, but the fact that the size of the (flood-affected) area is so large this time will be considered,” he said.
South Korea has been cautious in providing assistance to the North because of its no-aid pledge over the missile crisis.
But growing public calls for aid to the North have emboldened the government. The country’s main opposition party, which has been skeptical of aid provisions to the communist state, has also been supportive of emergency aid to the North.
The aid decision boosted hopes for an improvement in inter-Korean relations, which chilled after North Korea strongly protested Seoul’s decision to halt rice and fertilizer supplies until the North resolves concerns over its missile and nuclear programs.
North Korea is one of the poorest countries in the world after natural disasters and mismanagement devastated its economy in the mid-1990s. The country relies on foreign assistance to feed its 23 million people.