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Family Reunions, Rice and Nukes

Posted November. 01, 2010 08:22,   


The reunions of separated families from the two Koreas were full of tears. Ri Jong Ryol, the eldest North Korean at the event at age 90, held his South Korean son tight and called his name a number of times. The son burst into tears, saying he had held memorial services because he thought his father was dead.

After three days of reunions, 436 South Koreans will soon have to part with 97 North Koreans for a long farewell. This is the same for those meeting 207 North Korean relatives Wednesday at Mount Kumgang. More than 80,000 South Koreans applied to attend the reunions, with those over age 70 accounting for 77 percent. Given their age, they might die before seeing their relatives in the North.

At the latest inter-Korean Red Cross summit, Seoul suggested regular monthly reunions of 100 families, reunions for those who have seen their long-lost kin before, and finding the addresses of 5,000 separated relatives still alive. Pyongyang countered with an offer of 100 reunions three to four times a year on condition that Seoul provide 500,000 tons of rice and 300,000 tons of fertilizer and resume tours to Mount Kumgang. The North obviously wants goods and money rather than care about the sorrow of the separated families.

The former Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations of South Korea sent 300,000 to 400,000 tons of rice and 200,000 to 300,000 tons of fertilizer to North Korea every year. North Korean defectors say Pyongyang used this rice to feed high-ranking officials or put it in military stockpiles. The North also conducted two nuclear tests and has pledged to become a “strong and powerful nation” by completing nuclear energy development by 2012.

In September, the South Korean Red Cross sent to the North 5,000 tons of rice, 10,000 tons of cement, and 3 million packages of instant noodles. Open Radio for North Korea, a shortwave station based in South Korea, said Pyongyang recently supplied rice sent from Seoul to Mount Baekdu Military First Youth Development Center, using it to build hype for heir apparent Kim Jong Un. The North is using rice and money sent from the South to feed its soldiers, solidify its third-generation family succession, and develop nuclear weapons. So it is simply absurd that opposition parties and leftists in the South want to send massive rice aid to the North and allow unconditional resumption of tours to Mount Kumgang.