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North Korea Reluctant to Accept South Korean Aid Workers

North Korea Reluctant to Accept South Korean Aid Workers

Posted April. 27, 2004 21:11,   


Both Koreas held an emergency conference on April 27 at Janamsan hotel in Gaesung to discuss relief supplies and reconstruction issues for the victims of the massive train explosion in Yongcheon, North Korea.

It was reported that the South Korean delegation proposed the dispatch of two billion won in emergency relief supplies, construction materials and heavy equipments for the reconstruction of Yongcheon, and a medical team and engineers to help the reconstruction effort. The North Korean delegation expressed gratitude for the offer of relief supplies and equipments, but refused to accept manpower support.

The Southern delegation, headed by Hong Jae-hyung, chief of the social and cultural interchange department of the Unification Ministry, was composed of nine members from related institutions such as the Health and Welfare Ministry, the Construction and Traffic Ministry, and the South Korean Red Cross.

Earlier, acting President Koh Guen was told of the government’s plan to help restore the destroyed city of Yongcheon by Unification Minister Chung Se-hyun in a cabinet council held at the Central Government Complex on Sejong Street, Seoul, and instructed him to discuss air transportation arrangements with the North, since emergency relief supplies require rapid delivery.

Meanwhile, the first relief supplies from South Korea were planned to be delivered to the blast site in Yongcheon County, Pyungbuk on the night of April 30, but it turns out the delivery will be delayed until the first of next month.

A South Korean Red Cross official said that “it is difficult for the supplies to arrive at the damaged area until April 30,” adding, “a cargo ship that sails between Inchon and Nampo was scheduled to arrive at Inchon on April 27, but it didn’t depart on account of high waves off Nampo.”

Apart from this, both Koreas made contact at Panmoonjum and agreed to hold the 14th Ministerial Talks, which was once reported to have been delayed because of the Yongcheon train station blast. The talks will take place at the Korea Hotel, Pyongyang on May 4 to May 7 as scheduled.

Seung-Ryun Kim srkim@donga.com