Go to contents

S. Korea Investigating Aid to North

Posted January. 22, 2007 07:03,   


It is expected that the government’s aid to North Korea will be affected as the international community has decided to investigate the general situation of aid projects using U.N. funding including the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). So far, the government and private groups supporting North Korea have often used international organizations as a means to give humanitarian aid to the North, as such aid through the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP) and others are less influenced by the inter-Korean relations.

Last year, the government and private organizations didn’t provide previously planned corn aid to the North in the aftermath of North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests. However, they spent 5.912 billion won in malaria preventive measures and infant and child support.

In 2005, they sent products worth 25.773 billion won in food aid and quarantine measures against malaria. Besides, they provided goods worth 2.254 billion won in aid and preventive measures against malaria with the North in 2004, and offered North Korea goods worth 20.303 billion won in corn, malaria preventive measures, and vaccine and immunizing agents in 2003.

The total sum Korea spent on the North in humanitarian assistance over the last 10 years (from 1995 to 2004) amounts to $119.43 million, 7.99 percent of the total U.N. financial aid of $1.49 billion to North Korea. During the period, apart from world organizations, the government gave the North $1.16 billion in financial support.

A government official said, “The government’s support for North Korea through international groups is its obligation as a responsible member of the international community,” and added, “Assistance for North Korea through world organizations is for humanitarian purposes, and as far as I know, there is no possibility for misappropriating funds since the aid is being carried out based on a principle of providing 100 percent goods.”

However, contrary to the above government’s official statement, the government seems rather perplexed at the suspicion that its aid through world organizations was diverted to be used for the North’s nuclear development program. The government has used world organizations as an indirect route for its aid toward North Korea because it was worried about getting embroiled in accusations that it is being too lenient on North Korea.

Unification Minister Lee Jae-Jeong also said in his inaugural speech that even humanitarian aid should be divided into emergency aid, assistance in loan form and aid for development, and that emergency aid should continue under any circumstances in order to emphasize the continuation of government’s support for North Korea through world organizations.

Minister Lee has so far expressed regret to the WFP over the suspension of food aid to the North and emergency relief aid for North Korea’s catastrophic flood damage. Another government official stated, The “UNDP seems to have nothing to do with humanitarian aid since it is aid for the development of North Korea. Still, it will still affect the government’s humanitarian assistance program for the North in the future.”

Meanwhile, it was revealed that the government is investing in the Tumen River Area Development Programme (TRADP) the government has been participating in since 1995 under the auspices of the UNDP. An official at the Ministry of Finance and Economy noted, “This year, the government will pay $181,000 for the operating expenses of the TRADP office.”

taewon_ha@donga.com ddr@donga.com