Go to contents

Rice aid to North stirs bitter debate

Posted October. 12, 2000 12:46,   


The National Assembly's Unification, Foreign Affairs and Trade called on Minister of Unification Park Jae-Kyu on Wednesday and made inquiries following the report by Minister Park concerning the currently developing situation with the North.

Words in loud voices were exchanged when the opposition Grand National Party representatives grilled the minister concerning the rice aid to the North and the low-key attitude of the South's diplomats when dealing with the North.

"Although a part of the first shipment, about 20,000 tons of rice, left port in China on Oct. 3, the rice-aid agreement was officially adopted through the exchange of a written contract at Panmunjom on Oct. 4," the opposition GNP Rep. Suh Choung-Won said. "Such a sequence of events points toward the rice aid being given in a veil of secrecy."

Rep. Kim Young-Kap also reproached Minister Park. "Do the North Koreans have such English ability to recognize the markings that were in English rather than proudly showing Republic of Korea in Korean?" Rep. Kim said.

In response, the ruling Millennium Democratic Party's Lim Chae-Jung also questioned Minister Park. "What was the case when former President Kim Young-Sam's administration sent rice aid to the North?" Lim said. "At the time, there were no markings. Being so critical (of the administration) in this international social affairs is a bit out of hand."

Also, the supposed statement by President Kim Dae-Jung during his meeting with the opposition GNP chairman Oct. 9 concerning a possibility that the rice aid would be put to vote by the people caused a bit of contention.

To Rep. Suh Chung-Won's questions, "Have you not received any private instruction from the president concerning the people's vote? Have you had a discussions with the president concerning putting it to vote?" Minister Park flatly denied having had such discussions.

Yoon Young-Chan yyc11@donga.com