S.Korea resumes aid shipments to N.Korea

South Korean aid shipments to North Korea resumed in full swing after video reunions of separated families began on Tuesday. The government sent 60,000 blankets to North Korea on Wednesday. The shipment of blankets, part of a flood relief campaign, was halted after Pyongyang conducted a nuclear test last October.

The shipment also included 11 other relief items including disinfectants for the prevention of foot-and-mouth disease. Some 15,000 tons of rice and 70,000 tons of cement will go north next month.

A ship carrying 6,500 tons of fertilizer left Yeosu port for North Korea on Wednesday, part of 300,000 tons of fertilizer due to be sent to the North by late June. The provision of fertilizer will cost W108 billion (US$1=W939) including freight fees. North Korea asked the South Korean Red Cross to offer fertilizer aid on March 7.

The government will provide North Korea with some W3.5 billion of materials and W400 million in cash for the construction of a family reunion center equipped with video facilities.

Originally the South was supposed to provide LCD monitors for the center, but the U.S. has banned shipments of LCD monitors to North Korea, so the cash will go to buying LCD monitors from China.

The two sides will discuss when and how 400,000 tons of rice worth W200 billion will be sent across the border at a meeting of the Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Committee which will open in Pyongyang on April 18.