Democratic People's Republic of KoreaOngoing
Appeals & Response Plans
Humanitarian support is separate, gov’t says, though allies disagree
The South Korean government will give North Korea $8 million worth of aid through two international organizations under the UN, as President Moon Jae-in continues to distinguish between humanitarian assistance and political and military affairs in his dealings with the Kim Jong-un regime.
South Korea Tuesday approved an enforcement ordinance for the North Korean Human Rights Act, allowing the law to come into effect this Sunday, 11 years after the bill was first submitted to the parliament.
Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn passed the ordinance during a cabinet meeting Tuesday, five months after the law was passed by the National Assembly, ending 11 years of partisan wrangling over the content and purpose of the law.
Kim Jong-un’s offer of a summit leads to a series of concessions
The Park Geun-hye administration will offer money from the state-operated Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund to North Korea through private aid groups for the first time in five years.
The decision appeared to be part of a rapprochement that began when North Korean leader Kim Jong-un suggested a summit with the South last week.
WASHINGTON - Despite worsening U.S.-North Korean relations, an American charity is ramping up efforts against an epidemic of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in the isolated country, where it says it is making inroads in fighting the deadly disease.
The Eugene Bell Foundation travels to North Korea twice a year, bringing high-end equipment and drugs to treat TB patients at old-world facilities.
A South Korean civic group sent a large shipment of food aid for North Korean infants, a major humanitarian assistance approved by the Park Geun-hye administration.
A ship carrying 26,000 cans of powdered milk totaling 22.1 tons departed for North Korea yesterday from Incheon Port, west of Seoul. The amount can feed about 13,000 babies for a month, according to the civic group 1090 Peace and Unification Campaign, which is in partnership with the JoongAng Ilbo.
In March 1 address, Park Geun-hye calls for ‘more flexible engagement’
The Park Geun-hye administration is planning on stoking a thaw in the long-frosty relations with North Korea with a resumption of humanitarian assistance to the country, a senior Blue House official told JoongAng Ilbo yesterday.
“As part of trust-building efforts, we will first start humanitarian assistance,” the official said. “Besides the aid, we are also considering what else we can do.”
The United States Senate on Thursday approved a farm bill that bans food assistance to North Korea without a presidential waiver, taking a tougher stance on the Communist regime following its recent missile test.
The amendment was proposed jointly by the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee chairman, John Kerry of Massachusetts, and ranking Republican Richard Lugar of Indiana and was passed 59 to 40.
The revision prohibits North Korea from receiving humanitarian food aid based on the Food for Peace Act unless the president grants a national interest waiver.
North Korea has seemingly decided not to accept humanitarian aid by South Korea’s private relief agencies if it comes with monitoring, aid officials here said yesterday.
North Korea has said it will only accept “pure” humanitarian aid from South Korea, in an apparent rejection of aid with strings attached, an aid official said of his recent contact with his North Korean counterpart.
Another South Korean private aid official also made a similar comment. The two spoke on condition of anonymity, citing policy.
BEIJING - During his surprise May visit to China, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il secured free fertilizer and discounted food to help alleviate the impoverished country’s chronic food shortages.
A source in Beijing who monitors North Korea-China relations told the JoongAng Ilbo on Monday that Chinese officials agreed to provide 200,000 tons of fertilizer free of charge as well as 500,000 tons of corn at a discount in exchange for rights to North Korea’s abundant natural resources.
The South Korean Red Cross will send relief aid to North Korea to help victims of the recent torrential rain, but it will not send cement or heavy equipment, which the North asked for.
The Ministry of Unification said yesterday that the Red Cross had sent a third statement to its counterpart in the North, announcing it would send 5 billion won ($4.6 million) worth of emergency food supplies and not other daily necessities and medical supplies the Red Cross had initially planned to send.
Since March 31, Seoul has only allowed a minimal amount of charity to be sent into North Korea, largely for children and the disabled.
One of the few civil groups allowed to send aid is the Lighthouse Foundation, a nonprofit and nongovernmental organization founded in May 2004. To shed some light on the current state of South Korean aid to the North, the Korea JoongAng Daily sat down with Jang Chang-man, chairperson and general secretary of the Lighthouse Foundation, to see whether he thinks civil groups will get more breathing space in the future to resume aid to the North.
Seoul tells U.S. that Pyongyang must have inter-Korean dialogue June 23, 2011 Seoul has told Washington it won’t mind the U.S. giving food aid to North Korea, but only after Pyongyang agrees to have inter-Korean talks, a diplomatic source told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday.
“Since [U.S. envoy] Robert King returned from North Korea, South Korea has expressed its stance that if the U.S. decides to give food, it would like the U.S. to do so at least after North Korea agreed to have inter-Korean talks,” the source said.
A team of European Union officials were to enter North Korea yesterday on a visit aimed at assessing food shortages in the impoverished nation, a source said.
The five-member team from the European Commission’s humanitarian aid department will stay in the North until June 17 to look into how serious the food shortages are.
The team will be divided into two groups to reach as many areas in the North as possible.
Their trip comes after a group of U.S. officials completed a trip to the North on a similar mission last month.
Despite Pyongyang’s fiery rhetoric on Sunday, when it said it will not deal with Seoul and plans to cut back on communications, the South Korean government is still allowing groups to visit North Korea for small-scale humanitarian aid.
In the aftermath of the Cheonan sinking, Seoul last May 24 barred any group from entering North Korea unless it was related to aid efforts.
A Dutch diplomat recently observed large-scale grain farming in North Korea and also saw North Korean children so starved that they were losing the color in their hair.
The two conflicting images provided by Paul Menkveld, Dutch ambassador to Seoul, led him to doubt the authenticity of the country’s claim of a worse-than-usual food shortage, he said. Menkveld and several other ambassadors to Seoul, all accredited to both Koreas, gave the accounts of their recent trips to the North during a diplomatic seminar in Seoul on Friday.
Six officials from a South Korean nongovernment organization entered North Korea yesterday to discuss humanitarian aid.
The Korea NGO Council for Cooperation with North Korea said the visit was in response to an invitation made by the North Korean office for the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation. The council has offices in both Koreas.
An official from the council said they requested permission to visit the North from the South Korean Ministry of Unification on May 16 and received it on Wednesday.
Washington seen as inclined toward helping resolve humanitarian crisis
The point man for the U.S. on North Korea policy said yesterday that his government will make a decision within days on sending an envoy to the North to assess food shortages in the isolated country, signaling Washington’s further inclination toward resuming food aid to the North.
“We will be making a decision on that over the next few days,” Stephen Bosworth said, instead of denying a local media report that U.S. envoy on human rights Robert King will visit the North next week.
The United States is evaluating a plan to send a team of experts to analyze the food situation in North Korea, following an assessment made by the UN’s World Food Program and Food and Agriculture Organization.
According to several diplomatic sources from the United States and South Korea, there is an ongoing debate whether to send the experts to the reclusive country.
Sources said the White House and State Department are tentative about the idea of sending the team, but USAID is positive.
Four members of the Elders, an independent group of eminent global leaders, will visit North Korea this month to discuss tension between the two Koreas as well as the North’s food crisis, which was recently reported by the United Nations.
An 11-year-old North Korean boy living alone a half-demolished home in China was found nearly dead from food poisoning after eating food found in the garbage.