Archive for the ‘2013 aid from South Korea’ Category

ROK private sector aid to the DPRK at low

Monday, June 16th, 2014

ROK-DPRK-aid-Hankyoreh

According to the Hankyoreh:

In terms of levels of private-sector [interchanges], the situation is even worse than the previous all-time low under the Lee administration. According to the annual White Paper on unification published in March, the total amount of private aid to North Korea authorized by the Ministry of Unification in 2013 stood at 5.1 billion won (US$5million). This amount not only pales in comparison to the 90.9 billion won (US$89.3million) okayed in 2007, the last year of the Roh Moo-hyun administration, but is only one-sixth the 31.0 billion won ($30.5 million) annual average during the Lee years. Even in 2011 and 2012, years when interchange and cooperation with North Korea were banned under the May 24 measures adopted in the wake of the ROKS Cheonan sinking, aid from NGOs amounted to 13.1 billion won (US$12.9million) and 11.8 billion won (US$411.6million), respectively. Between 120,000 and 180,000 people traveled between the Koreas under the Lee administration in comparison with last year’s total of 76,000. The Ministry of Unification is calling the numbers misleading.

“Last year, there was not any real aid to North Korea until August because all ties had been cut off after their third nuclear test in February,” a senior ministry official said on condition of anonymity. “The amount of aid and the number of people involved in exchange fell because there was a six-month vacuum,” the official explained.” The NGOs are countering by arguing aid has remained at a low 2.1 billion won (US$2.06million) this year, despite a lack of major frictions.

There are, however, signs of some change in inter-Korean interchange though the NGOs are cautioning against reading too much into the government’s decisions. On June 4, the Ministry of Unification approved the first agricultural exchange effort since the May 24 measures. The Gyeongnam Unification Agricultural Cooperation Committee has sent 33 million won (US$32,400) worth of strawberry seedlings to North Korea, where they are to be grown for four months before being brought back South

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Hyundai Research Institute: DPRK economic report for 2013

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

According to Yonhap:

The North’s per-capita GDP for last year is estimated at US$854, up $39 from a year earlier, according to the report released by the Hyundai Research Institute (HRI), a South Korean private think tank.

The North’s 2013 per-capita GDP amounts to a mere 3.6 percent of South Korea’s per-capita GDP of $23,838 for the same year, it said

North Korea’s grain production improved on the back of favorable weather conditions, while the country also expanded its investment in various industrial sectors, the report said.

The communist state’s grain production is estimated to have grown some 5 percent last year from a year earlier. The country saw an 8.5 percent on-year rise and 10 percent gain in its grain production, respectively, in 2011 and 2012.

Also, the reclusive nation increased its budget spending for railroads, metal and power generation sectors, which contributed in boosting its economy, the report showed.

Trade between North Korea and its strongest ally China jumped 10.4 percent on-year to reach $6.5 billion last year, while inter-Korean trade sank 42 percent to $1.1 billion due to a five-month halt of an jointly run industrial park.

The 2013 inter-Korean trade figure is the lowest since 2005 when the comparable figure was $1.06 billion.

The Kaesong Industrial Complex was shut down in early April 2013 after the North unilaterally pulled out all of its workers at 123 South Korean firms. It reopened in September after Pyongyang agreed not to repeat such a suspension.

Assistance from the international community to the North also dropped 47 percent on-year to reach $63.1 million last year, the report said.

Though the story does not cite the article from which the data is drawn, you can download the original report by the Hyundai Research Institute here (PDF in Korean).

Read the full story here:
N. Korea’s per-capita GDP grows 4.8 pct in 2013: report
Yonhap
2014-3-16

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2013 private ROK aid to the DPRK

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Yonhap announced that the ROK is allowing private aid groups to send goods to the DPRK. The article also mentions the total volume of the ROK’s official and private assistance to the DPRK in 2013.

According to the article:

South Korea endorsed private humanitarian aid to North Korea on Monday, an official said, in the latest assistance to Pyongyang despite lingering tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The two private aid groups are allowed to ship nutritional and medical supplies worth 240 million won (US$227,000) to infants, children and people suffering tuberculosis in the North, unification ministry spokesman Kim Eyi-do told reporters.

The planned aid brought the total amount of assistance to the North by South Korea’s private aid groups to 6.8 billion won since February when President Park Geun-hye took office in Seoul.

South Korea has also shipped aid worth 13.5 billion won to the North through international organizations since February.

All posts on South Korean assistance to the DPRK in 2013 can be found here.

All posts on aid to the DPRK can be found here.

All posts on aid to the DPRK that have statistics can be found here.

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S. Korea approves private humanitarian aid to N. Korea
Yonhap
2013-12-30

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ROK aid to DPRK up 26% in 2013

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

According to Yonhap:

South Korea has sent 17.8 billion won (US$16.7 million) in humanitarian aid to North Korea in 2013, a 26 percent increase from last year, despite the spike in cross-border tensions, the Seoul government said Sunday.

In a report released by the Ministry of Unification, the total amount of aid sent to the communist country, including money donated to international organizations, represents a 26 percent increase from 14.1 billion won offered in 2012.

“Despite criticisms that Seoul has not done enough to help the disadvantaged in the North, the incumbent Park Geun-hye administration has sent more aid to Pyongyang than what was shipped last year when President Lee Myung-bak was in office,” a government official said.

The official, who did not wish to be identified, pointed out that while critics have said the amount is small, people have to take into account the overall aid offered. North conducted its third nuclear test in February and threatened pre-emptive strikes against Seoul and Washington, seriously souring cross-border ties.

Fifteen local charity groups including the Eugene Bell Foundation and Korea Sharing Net provided 4.3 billion won, or a little over 24.1 percent of all aid to the North, with the rest coming from the South Korean government.

Seoul donated 13.5 billion won to the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund since President Park took office in late February.

Moving forward, the official said South Korea has no plans to provide direct food aid to the North but that it may consider offering matching funds to private charity organizations wanting to help the North.

The source said while Seoul has no plans to ease its so-called May 24 sanctions that ban all nonhumanitarian economic and social exchanges with the North, it has exercised flexibility and permitted limited cross-border contacts and transactions.

Seoul implemented the ban after it accused the North of sinking one of its warships in the seas off their west coast in 2010. The incident claimed the lives of 46 South Korean sailors.

“The policy of flexibility existed in the past and is nothing new,” he said.

Read the full story here:
S. Korean aid to N. Korea grows 26 pct in 2013 on-year
Yonhap
2013-11-17

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ROK sets aside funds for DMZ Peace Park

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

According to Yonhap:

The government set aside 40.2 billion won (US$37.3 million) in next year’s budget proposal for a project calling for the establishment of a peace park in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on the border with North Korea, according to the draft budget Thursday.

The DMZ peace park project is one of President Park Geun-hye’s outreach projects to North Korea. She first unveiled the vision during her visit to the United States in May and formally proposed the project on August. But questions persist about its possibility due to tensions with Pyongyang.

According to the government’s budget proposal, which is subject to changes and requires approval from the National Assembly, the unification ministry’s total budget was set at 1.34 trillion won, up 20.9 billion won or 1.6 percent from this year’s budget.

Of the 40.2 billion won set aside for the peace park project, 24 billion was designated for use in removing landmines strewn throughout the DMZ, while the rest was allocated for research and other purposes, according to the budget proposal.

The budget for humanitarian assistance to North Korea fell slightly to 680.2 billion won from this year’s 724 billion won. But officials said the decline is because of a fall in prices for rice and fertilizer and the government plans to keep the amount of aid at this year’s level of 400,000 tons of rice and 300,000 tons of fertilizer.

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S. Korea sets aside 40.2 billion won for DMZ peace park project
Yonhap
2013-9-26

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ROK to donate $6.3m to DPRK

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

According to Yonhap:

South Korea will give US$6.3 million won in humanitarian aid to North Korea through a United Nations agency, the unification ministry said Monday.

The move comes as Seoul has maintained it will provide assistance to underprivileged people in the North regardless of political and diplomatic developments.

Inter-Korean tensions that spiked in the first half of this year have eased in recent months with the two Koreas engaged in talks to fully reopen the factory park in Kaesong and hold family reunions for people separated by the 1950-53 Korean War on Sept. 25-30.

“The money to go to the World Health Organization (WHO) will help repair medical facilities, train healthcare workers and give essential drugs to the North that can help all people,” a unification ministry official said.

The funds will come from the inter-Korean cooperation fund managed by the state with final approval to be given by the South and North Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Council.

Besides money to be sent to the WHO, Seoul plans to allow 12 civic groups to send 2.35 billion won (US$2.13 million) worth of aid to the North in 13 different projects, the ministry official said.

This move will mark the second time that the Park Geun-hye administration has allowed humanitarian aid to reach the North. The last shipment was approved in late July when Seoul said it would send $6.04 million to the North through the U.N. Children’s Fund and allowed 1.47 billion won in aid to be sent by five civic groups.

The aid to be provided by private charity groups includes medical supplies, baby formula, vitamins, soup, soy milk, supplies to make nutritionally fortified bread and stationary for children, he added.

Charity groups such as the Eugene Bell foundation, Human Earth Organization, Headquarters of Zero Tuberculosis World, Movement for One Corea, Korea Foundation for International Healthcare and Korea Love One groups want to send humanitarian supplies to the North.

The official said that compared to the last aid that focused on giving aide to newborns, young children and pregnant women, the latest move aims to help all people in need of assistance.

“Final approval will be made following confirmation that local relief organizations have received assurance of transparent distribution of the aid from Pyongyang, and they have acquired the necessary supplies to send to the communist country,” he said.

Related to the aid plan, various international organizations, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, claimed the North will likely suffer from a food shortage this year.

Read the whole story here:
S. Korea to give US$6.3 mln in humanitarian aid to N. Korea
Yonhap
2013-9-2

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Yonhap publishes table of ROK aid to DPRK

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

From 2001 until 2013.

Yonhap-ROK-aid-map

Here is the source.

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2013 flooding compendium

Friday, August 16th, 2013

UPDATE 9 (2013-8-16): ROK Red Cross to provide $100,000 flood relief to DPRK. According to Yonhap:

The Korean Red Cross plans to provide North Korea with an emergency fund of US$100,000 to help flood victims in the communist country, an official from the organization said Friday.

“The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has asked for our participation in supporting the flood-hit North Korea,” the official said.

“In accordance, we’ve decided in humanitarian terms to send $100,000 to the IFRC to provide the victims there with relief goods.” he added.

The money, which comes from the Korean Red Cross’ own funds reserved for inter-Korean exchanges, is expected to be transferred to an IFRC bank account next week, according to the official.

The IFRC data showed that torrential rains since early July have caused extensive flooding and landslides across the impoverished communist country, killing 33 people and injuring 2 others with 18 still missing. An estimated 4,000 families have lost their homes and 50,000 have been displaced.

The international agency said earlier this month that it has allocated 299,744 Swiss franc to help the North Korean victims, with their relief operation to continue until the end of October.

Last year, the Korean Red Cross provided Pyongyang with $100,000 to help those who suffered from heavy precipitations.

UPDATE 8 (2013-8-6): The UN and South Koreans are contributing to flood relief. According to Yonhap:

The World Food Program (WFP) spokeswoman Nanna Skau said corn is being provided to households that have been hit hard by recent flooding caused by torrential rain, Radio Free Asia reported. She added that assistance is being offered because flooding has caused extensive damage to farmlands and irrigation systems.

The radio broadcast monitored in Seoul said distribution of the grain will continue for the next 30 days, with each recipient being allocated 400 grams per day.

The WFP also said support will be provided to 38,067 people in 10 cities and counties in Pyongan, Hwanghae and Hamgyong provinces.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said torrential rains that caused flooding and landslides left 33 North Koreans dead and displaced roughly 50,000 people from their homes. In places such as Anju in South Pyongan Province, some 80 percent of the city was flooded, resulting in extensive damage to homes and buildings.

Related to the international food effort underway, Korean Sharing Movement, a South Korean non-governmental organization, said it wanted to send emergency food aid to the North and requested permission from Seoul’s Ministry of Unification, which oversees inter-Korean affairs.

The civic groups pointed out that emergency aid shipments have always been permitted in the past regardless of the state of inter-Korean relations.

Cross-border ties have been strained following the North’s detonation of its third nuclear device in February and subsequent tightening of international sanctions. The shutting down of the joint factory park in Kaesong further strained relations.

Seoul has officially maintained that it will allow shipments of humanitarian aid to the North, but made clear it needs to first verify the extent of the flood damage. Officials have cited urgency and ability to make certain that relief will reach those in greatest need as conditions that must be met for aid to be provided. Last week, South Korea approved aid shipments by five local civic organizations.

Reflecting the country’s humanitarian aid policy, the South and North Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Council, which is chaired by the unification minister, approved sending more than US$6.03 million for relief programs organized by the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The money will be used to provide medicine and vaccines as well as improve the level of nutrition provided to small children, pregnant women and the socially disadvantaged. An additional 15.92 million won (US$14,288) will be sent to UNICEF to help manage the aid programs in North Korea.

UPDATE 7 (2013-8-2): From the United Nations:

Exceptionally heavy seasonal rain in mid-July resulted in flooding in many parts of DPRK Korea. Particularly severely affected are the provinces of North and South Pyongan. Many places had over twice the average rainfall for July in three days. There are a reported 33 deaths with 18 people still missing.

The Government has reported that there has been extensive damage to buildings and infrastructure with a current total of 48,688 people made homeless across the country, mostly in the two provinces of North and South Pyonang. Farmland was inundated with 11,567 hectares affected with around 1,125 hectares of farmland washed away or otherwise destroyed.

UN agencies carried out assessment missions on 24 July to two counties in North Pyongang – Pakchon and Taechon and in those two areas confirmed the scale of the flood damage. Further assessment missions will take place this week.

Damage to water systems is widespread and there is already an increased incidence of diarrhoea in some areas. Anju city, which was 80% flooded will only have its pumping stations fully operational again in about two weeks. 30 other communities have had their drinking water systems damaged.

Damage to agricultural land is extensive though estimates of crop damage vary and further assessment missions in the next week should give a more accurate number once the flood waters have fully receded. Apart from the farmland that was physically swept away or buried, damage to the standing crops may not be as extensive as first reports suggested as many fields were flooded by heavy rain rather than by flash flooding and, unless there is further heavy rain, seem likely to largely recover.

Transport infrastructure has suffered with at least 20 bridges and 11km of embankments and 143 areas where roads have been eroded, washed away or blocked by landslides. Government surveys show that 27 schools were completely destroyed in four provinces, with a further 10 being badly damaged. Many others have suffered more minor damage, though currently it is the summer break, so at present schooling is not being disrupted. Medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics and nursing homes also were affected with 3 being destroyed and 14 badly damaged.

UPDATE 6 (2013-8-4): The North Koreans have cut short military exercises to focus on flood relief. According to the AFP:

The communist state has staged summer military drills that partially coincided with the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise conducted by its rival South Korea and the United States, that usually takes place in August.

“But this year’s summer drill in the North will be scaled back considerably because it needs to focus on repairing floods damages,” the source was quoted as saying.

Floods caused by heavy rains that pummelled the North since early July have destroyed some 6,000 houses, displaced more than 23,000 people and washed away a large swathes of farmlands, the North’s state media said late last month.

The death toll has reached 33 across the nation and some 13,300 hectares of farmlands have been damaged, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said last week, warning of “longer-term impact” on the country’s food security.

Decades of deforestation and decrepit infrastructure have left the impoverished North vulnerable to floods, which led to some 170 deaths last summer.

UPDATE 5 (2013-8-2): The international Red Cross has said it will provide North Korea with an emergency fund of US$320,000 to help flood victims. According to Yonhap:

The international Red Cross has said it will provide North Korea with an emergency fund of US$320,000 to help flood victims in the communist country.

In a report posted on its website Thursday, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said it has allocated 299,744 Swiss franc from its disaster relief emergency fund “to help the DPRK Red Cross Society in delivering immediate assistance to 5,000 families or 20,000 beneficiaries.”

DPRK stands for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the North’s official name.

Torrential rains since early July have caused extensive flooding and landslides across the impoverished communist country, killing 33 people and injuring 2 others with 18 still missing, according to the IFRC data. An estimated 4,000 families have lost their homes and 50,000 have been displaced.

In response, the agency plans to spend $120,000 to set up a shelter for 5,000 families in the most affected areas of North and South Pyongan and North Hwanghae Provinces, another $100,000 for utensils, and $40,700 for water, sanitation and hygiene works.

“The operation targets to support affected families with essential items … It also supports the operational cost of the two water treatment units and hygiene promotion activities,” the IFRC said in the report.

The relief operation will continue over the next three months until the end of October, it added.

In the wake of the tragedy in the North, the IFRC dispatched an eight-member group of experts to the affected areas and has conducted damage assessment and led relief work.

The fund is a source of un-earmarked money created by the Federation in 1985 to ensure that immediate financial support is available for its emergency response, according to the agency’s website.

UPDATE 4 (2013-7-31): ROK NGOs start shipping humanitarian aid to DPRK. According to Yonhap:

South Korean non-governmental organizations (NGOs) started shipping out humanitarian aid to North Korea on Wednesday to help alleviate the plight of children and sick people in the impoverished country.

The move comes after Seoul’s unification ministry approved the shipment of goods earlier in the week as a sign that South Korea is open to offering urgent humanitarian assistance to the North in spite of sanctions on the North for its nuclear device detonation in February.

The Korea Association of People Sharing Love, one of five NGOs to gain permission to ship goods, said it has ordered the shipment of bread in China for delivery to child-care centers and orphanages in Sinuiju, a North Korean border city with China.

It said other shipments of food will be made in the coming weeks. The organization was allowed to send US$46,000 worth of bread, baby formulas and nutritional supplements.

Medical Aid for Children, another charity group, said it has held a ceremony in Incheon, west of Seoul, to mark the start of its deliveries of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs.

The group said medical supplies worth 223 million won ($199,700) will be made to a children’s hospital in the North.

Other groups like Green Tree Korea, Okedongmu Children and Stop Hunger said the first of their aid shipments will reach the North next month.

These organization plan to send more than 1.2 billion won worth of warm clothing, blankets, flour, powdered milk to the North in the coming weeks.

The shipments mark the first time in four months that Seoul has approved humanitarian aid to the communist country. The last shipment included tuberculosis medicine sent by the Eugene Bell foundation.

Seoul has imposed a blanket ban on shipments of goods after accusing the North of sinking one of its naval vessels near the South-North sea demarcation line in March 2010.

UPDATE 3 (2013-7-28): South Korea offers flood assistance. According to the New York Times:

South Korea announced $7.3 million worth of humanitarian aid for North Korea on Sunday, a conciliatory gesture that coincided with a call by the South for “one last round” of talks on restarting a jointly operated industrial complex.

The majority of the aid — $6 million — will be provided by the South Korean government and shipped through Unicef, the United Nations children’s agency, which provides vaccines, medicine and nutritional supplements for malnourished children and pregnant women in the impoverished North. Five private humanitarian aid groups from South Korea will provide the remainder; they will also send medicine and food for young children.

The South Korean minister in charge of policy toward the North, Ryoo Kihl-jae, said the aid shipments were not linked to political issues. But the announcement was contained in a statement in which Mr. Ryoo also called for a final round of talks with the North to settle disputes over the Kaesong industrial complex, which has been closed since early April.

There was no immediate response from the North Korean government.

UPDATE 2 (2013-7-25): Christian Friends of Korea (CFK) to provide flood relief. According to Yonhap:

Christian Friends of Korea (CFK), which is already engaged in providing humanitarian assistance to people living in the Hwanghae region, will offer clean drinking water, food and medicine to flood victims, Radio Free Asia reported.

The United Nations said that as of Monday, 24 people have been killed because of flooding while many others have been injured. It said a fact-finding mission has been sent to the isolationist country to assess the full extent of the damage so assistance can be provided.

UPDATE 1 (2013-7-23): According to KCNA (2013-7-23):

Flood Damage Grows in DPRK

Pyongyang, July 23 (KCNA) — Flood damage by consecutive downpour and heavy rainfalls is growing in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

According to a survey made between 18:00 July 20 and 18:00 July 22, the flooding left eight people dead throughout the country.

More than 4,500 houses were destroyed or submerged, leaving 17,700 people homeless.

At least 1,000 houses were damaged totally or partially in North Phyongan Province, with 2,300 houses submerged in Unsan County alone.

6,550 hectares of cropland were damaged in North and South Phyongan provinces.

Meanwhile, the torrential rain has brought damage to some 30 school and 15 hospital buildings throughout the country as of July 23, after the start of the rainy season.

ORIGINAL POST (2013-7-23): According to the Daily NK:

The city of Anju in South Pyongan Province, which suffered substantive flood damage in the summer of 2012, has again been hit hard by the rainy season. Francis Markus of the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) released the news via Twitter on the 22nd, asserting that 80% of the city is now under water.

Markus tweeted, “10,000+ ppl displaced, need shelter & clean water in Anju city, w. #DPRK as river bursts banks #RedCross deploys water units,” later adding, “80% of Anju City, #DPRK reported under 2 m of water. #RedCross sending tarps, jerry cans, water purif tabs, hygiene kits etc 4 survivors.”

The city, which lies northwest of Pyongsung, has a population of more than 200,000.

Meanwhile, according to a North Korean meteorological statistics released by Chosun Central News Agency (KCNA) yesterday, close to double the average amount of July rainfall has fallen during the 20 days since the start of the rainy season.

“On July 20, the highest precipitation was recorded in Tongsin, Songwon, Ryongrim and Thaechon counties,” the article noted, going on, “From 21:00 July 19th to 15:00 July 21st, 413mm rainfall was recorded in Tongsin County, 383mm in Songwon County, 380mm in Thaechon County, 322mm in Huichon City, 312mm in Hyangsan County, 304mm in Tongchang County and over 200mm in Kusong City, Sonchon and Nyongbyon counties and Tokchon City.”

On the 19th, IFRC announced that it has dispatched an on-site inspection team to assess conditions on the ground in North Korea. An international relief effort in August 2012 saw the Red Cross deliver water and other essential goods to the people of the flood-damaged city.

Read the full story here:
Pyongan Suffering in Heavy Rains
Daily NK
Kim Tae Hong
2013-7-23

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Inter-Korean trade dries up in May

Monday, June 24th, 2013

According to Yonhap (via Global Post):

Trade between South and North Korea came to virtually zero in May after inter-Korean tensions led to the shutdown of the Kaesong Industrial Complex seen as the last symbol of bilateral economic cooperation, the government said Monday.

The volume of inter-Korean trade reached only US$320,000 last month, which accounts for just over 1 percent of the $23.4 million recorded in April, according to the Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs.

The majority of the May trade represents electricity costs the South spent to maintain the plant facilities in the factory park in the North Korean border city of Kaesong, according to the ministry. The South exported about $260,000 worth of electricity while importing $60,000 worth of periodicals from the North last month, the ministry said.

Inter-Korean exchange came to an abrupt halt in mid-April as the North withdrew North Korean workers employed by South Korean firms in the Kaesong industrial zone in protest against South Korea’s joint military drills with the U.S. in March.

The joint factory park made up almost all of the inter-Korean trade as chilly relations cut off other exchanges.

The number of cross-border trips permitted during May came to only seven, the ministry said, adding that they were the last batch of the seven South Korean workers who returned to the South after the closing of the Kaesong complex.

As inter-Korean relations remain frosty, the hiatus in inter-Korean trade is expected to continue, analysts said.

Read the full story here:
Inter-Korean trade comes to almost naught in May
Yonhap (via Global Post)
2013-6-24

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Eugene Bell sends medical aid to DPRK

Friday, April 19th, 2013

According to the Hankyoreh:

While North Korea prohibited members of the Corporate Association of Kaesong Industrial Complex (CAKIC) from entering the North, it granted access to representatives of the Eugene Bell Foundation. The foundation has been providing humanitarian and medical aid to North Korea for some time.

On Apr. 18, the Eugene Bell Foundation announced that a group of nine people who had been staying in Beijing waiting for their North Korean visas, including Chairman Stephen Linton and a group of donors to the foundation, finally received their visas that afternoon and boarded a plane bound for Pyongyang.

“Even this morning, it was unclear whether they would be allowed to enter the country, but fortunately the visas were issued in the afternoon,” a representative of the foundation said.

This is being seen as showing that North Korea is linking the Kaesong Industrial Complex issue with the current political situation on the Korean peninsula, but that it is willing to receive humanitarian support. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that the group visiting North Korea includes eight Americans and one French person, but no South Korean nationals.

The Eugene Bell Foundation, which operates tuberculosis clinics in eight areas in North Korea, including Pyongyang and Nampo, has sent representatives to North Korea twice each year in order to assess whether the tuberculosis medicine that it provides is being used properly. These visits continued to take place during the Lee Myung-bak administration (2008-Feb. 2013).

On Mar. 22, the foundation sent North Korea 678 million won (USD$604,267) worth of tuberculosis medicine in keeping with the principles of Park Geun-hye’s trust-building process for the Korean peninsula, which does not link humanitarian aid with the North Korean nuclear weapons issue. This medication left Pyeongtaek harbor and arrived at Nampo harbor on Apr. 4 by way of Dalian, China.

Meanwhile, the owners of the businesses at the Kaesong complex that were prohibited from entering the North on Apr. 17 have decided to try once again to visit the North on Apr. 20 via the CIQ (customs, immigration, and quarantine) office in Paju, Gyeonggi Province.

The Ministry of Unification announced on Apr. 18 that eight more employees who had been staying in Kaesong had returned to South Korea through the CIQ office. This brought the number of South Korean employees still remaining in the complex two weeks after North Korea blocked traffic from entering to 197, less than one fourth of the original total.

Read the full story here:

N. Korea allows entrance to foreign aid group
Hankyoreh
Gil Yun-hyung
2013-4-19

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An affiliate of 38 North