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Lee Gov`t to Send Rice Aid to N. Korea for 1st Time

Posted September. 14, 2010 11:30,   


South Korea will send rice aid to North Korea for the first time since the inauguration of the Lee Myung-bak administration in Seoul.

Yoo Chong-ha, head of the (South) Korean National Red Cross, said in a news conference Monday that the Red Cross will send 10 billion won (8.6 million U.S. dollars) worth of aid comprising 5,000 tons of rice, 10,000 tons of cement, three million packages of instant noodles, and medicine.

He also suggested a working-level meeting of Red Cross organizations from both sides in Kaesong Friday on Pyongyang’s proposal for reunions of separated inter-Korean families.

On the volume of rice aid, Yoo said, “Around 80,000 to 90,000 people in (the North Korean city of) Shinuiju are known to be displaced, and 5,000 tons of rice can feed 100,000 people for 100 days.” The distribution of the rice aid translates into 500 grams a day per person.

The South’s Red Cross set the amount given that international aid organizations allocate 300 to 500 grams per person when they send rice assistance to the North.

The budget for buying the rice was 7.7 billion won (6.6 million dollars), or 1.54 million won (1,330 dollars) per ton based on the price of rice Seoul purchased in 2007.

Even if the South Korean government provides rice aid to the North, the combined amount will be around 10 billion won as the South’s Red Cross proposed to the North last month.

Excluded from the aid package was heavy equipment that the North requested. Most of the 10 billion won in aid will come from a South Korean government fund for inter-Korean cooperation.

will71@donga.com kyle@donga.com