RoK offers $22 million in aid to DPRK

According to the AFP:

South Korea said Monday it would provide 26 billion won (22.2 million dollars) for humanitarian projects in North Korea, the second donation this month to its communist neighbour amid easing relations.

The unification ministry said it would donate 15.2 billion won to the World Health Organization’s programme for malnourished children and 4.7 billion won to the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF.

Spokesman Chun Hae-Sung said some six billion won has been allocated for a variety of other projects run by private groups.

“We decided to assist North Korean infants and children through private and international organisations, after considering the urgent situation in North Korea,” he told a briefing.

On December 18 the South shipped swine flu medication worth 15 million dollars to the North.

It was the first direct aid to Pyongyang from Seoul’s conservative government since it took office in February 2008.

Relations between the two Koreas have been interesting recently.   Official assistance from the South Korean government is at a near-term low, and the South Korean government spent little of the funds it appropriated for inter-Korean projects this year (See: here, here, and here).  South Korea has also tightened import rules for a number of North Korean goods (to protect local businesses), halted the export of luxury goods to the DPRK, and blacklisted DPRK businesses sanctioned by the UNSC. In addition, 2009 saw turmoil in the Kaesong Industrial Zone and a (predictable) naval clash along the NLL.

“Economic relations,” however, seem to have turned the corner recently.  Despite several months of decline, inter-Korean trade increased in the past two months.


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