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Flooded North Nixes Unification Fair

Posted August. 02, 2006 03:01,   

한국어

North Korea notified the South on August 1 that it decided to cancel the 8•15 Unification Festival which was to take place August 14-16 due to the losses from the recent flood.

The North Korean delegates of the 6.15 Joint Declaration Committee said in the facsimile message they sent the South delegates, “Many people have been mobilized in the North to reestablish the regions here and there which were struck by floods. We have come to the conclusion that it would be difficult for us to hold the fair when both the North and South Koreans are suffering from the flood.”

Prior to this, the North delegates of the 6.15 Joint Declaration Committee notified the South delegates on July 30 that they had inevitably decided to put off the Arirang Concert due to the losses from flood.

It is predicted that the North-South Korean relations will stay tight for a while with the civil fair 8•15 Unification Festival cancelled when North-South relations had already been worsened by the missile launch by North Korea.

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A government official said, however, “It doesn’t seem likely that the cancellation of the 8•15 Unification Festival was a step to worsen the situation additionally, following the missile launch. They are actually going through hard times because of the floods.”

The government is known to be revising measures to provide the North with support second hand through international relief organizations on the occasion of the flood, even though it had decided to reserve the granting of rice on credit and the supply of fertilizer as a countermeasure to the missile launch by North Korea.

On a more basic level, this is based on the intention to reopen the North-South cabinet level talks, which had been brought to a halt in the actual sense since the rupture of the 19th South-North Ministerial Talks last month. It is an attempt to have talks with the North with humanitarian aid for the flood victims as justification.

Chosun Sinbo, the publication of the General Association of Korean Residents (based in Japan), reported that heavy rains of 448mm poured in Sinyang-gun and Yangdeok-gun, Pyeongnam, for 18 hours on July 15 and 16. The Pyongyang Broadcasting Service reported on July 24, “A great number of pumping stations in Pyongyang have been sunken under the water, and the waterways, rivers, banks, electricity facilities were destroyed.”

According to Good Friends, an organization aiding North Korea, estimations have it that some 3,000 people are missing or dead from the flood. It is also said that the Daedong River overflowed for the first time in 16 years, sinking a part of Okryugwan, a cold noodles restaurant on Daedong riverside, and that the North Korean authorities have temporarily halted issuing passes to control the transfer of the flood victims.



gun43@donga.com