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Government Spends More Than 2.5 Billion Won on Four-Day Unification Event

Government Spends More Than 2.5 Billion Won on Four-Day Unification Event

Posted August. 19, 2005 03:04,   


With about 800-strong delegations from the two Koreas and overseas taking part in the August 15 National Celebrations for Independent and Peaceful Unification held in Seoul from August 14 to 17, the celebrations took place on a large scale. How much did the government cost to prepare for this event?

The total comes out to about 2.5 billion won in civilian funds plus extra costs borne by the authorities. The South Preparatory Committee revealed that it spent about 2.5 billion won as expenses for civilian events. These expenses include hotel charges, food costs and expenses for events, all of which were expenses spent by the delegations from the 182-member North Korean party, the 400-member South Korean party, and the 214-member overseas party. Of the entire costs, expenses for events accounted for about 50 percent of the total. Hotel charges and food costs accounted for around 25 percent, respectively.

The 2.5 billion won was appropriated from entry fees by the South’s delegation and inter-Korean cooperation funds that the Unification Ministry supports. The delegations from the North and overseas do not need to pay entry fees because they participated in these events as guests. The 400-member South Korean delegation paid 100,000 won each as entry fees. On top of that, about 4,000 visitors paid 10,000 won each for the same reason. Accordingly, the South Preparatory Committee raised a total of about 80 million won.

The Unification Ministry has decided to support the full basic expenses, including traffic costs, hotel expenses and food costs, by approving these celebrations as inter-Korean cooperation projects. In addition, it has decided to support expenses for all kinds of events. It is virtually the same as the ministry supporting most of expenses for civilian events.

Meanwhile, the cost for the extra expenses comes from the government as delegation support. The money is disbursed from an account under the Office of South-North Dialogue, but the specific amount of money handed out is unknown to the public.

If these celebrations are held in the North, participants from the South pay entry fees. As for the unification celebrations to mark the fifth anniversary of the June 15 Joint Declaration held in Pyongyang two months ago, the 295-strong South civilian delegation paid 2.5 million won each for the events. Air fares and hotel charges all were included in the expenses.

Nam Seong-wook, a North Korea Studies professor at Korea University, noted, “The scale of non-trade-style aid to the North has continually increased since President Roh Moo-hyun took office,” adding, “Since non-trade-type aid to the North eventually leads to controversy over whether it is considered unilateral aid, it is necessary to seek national consensus on this type of aid in advance.”

Hyung-June Park lovesong@donga.com