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North Korea May Be Feeling Pressure from International Organizations

North Korea May Be Feeling Pressure from International Organizations

Posted September. 10, 2005 08:08,   


It was confirmed on September 9 that North Korea recently requested the World Food Program (WFP) to switch its food assistance category from “emergency aid” to “development aid.”

Analysts say that the Communist country is pushing ahead with changes to development aid after feeling burdened by emergency assistance which is accompanied by thorough monitoring of the food distribution situation by WFP staff.

For this reason, the country is expected to strongly request the WFP to remove or reduce its investigation process regarding food distribution if it starts negotiations to change the aid.

However, the WFP said that it has a principle of conducting investigations into food rationing situations for development aid as well.

“Please Switch to Development Aid Starting in the New Year”-

Gerald Bourke, the WFP official covering North Korea from the WFP Beijing Office, said in a telephone interview with Dong-A Ilbo on September 9, “North Korean authorities recently expressed their opinion that they have received enough emergency aid for 10 years and that they want to switch the assistance to development aid starting from January next year.”

He also pointed out, “The report that North Korea said it would reject food aid from international organizations is clearly wrong.”

He said that the Communist country complained in August last year when it requested the WFP to change method of food assistance, saying, “There are too many investigations being conducted into the food rationing situation (by the WFP). People find that uncomfortable.”

Against this backdrop, the WFP believes that the development aid that North Korea asked for this time around refers to a new type of food aid without such investigations.

A high-ranking official of the South Korean government analyzed, “It seems that North Korea is attempting to prevent direct contact between its people and staff members of international organizations in the process of such investigations, which it believes to be accelerating the instability of the regime.”

There are some 120 WFP staff members in North Korea working at offices in six regions, including Pyongyang, Sinuiju and Hyesan.

Some in the government say that the country has shifted its focus to development aid, which includes infrastructure assistance for improving agriculture, on the belief that its food situation is getting better. They explain that the plans of South Korea and China to assist with 500,000 tons and 150,000 tons of rice to North Korea, respectively, gave some room for maneuver to the communist country.

Others say that the North expects to make up for its food shortages by increasing the amount of assistance from the South and China, whose distribution monitoring controls are less intensive than the WFP’s, if it receives development aid consists of a lesser amount of food compared with emergency aid.

Slim Chance of Switching-

The WFP’s principle is “no access, no food.” Therefore, there is a slim chance that it will extend development aid without conducting investigations into how the food is rationed, which is what North Korea wants.

The international agency stopped food rationing to Jagangdo from last December to this February after North Korean authorities banned investigations into food rationing there last fall.

Moreover, the WFP thinks that it is premature to apply development aid, which provides a smaller amount of food, to North Korea. It is, however, planning to run parallel emergency aid and development aid programs in case the North continues to request development aid.

Hyung-June Park Myoung-Gun Lee lovesong@donga.com gun43@donga.com