WORLD NEWS TOMORROW – A local non-government group has agreed to send food and supplies to North Korea to help it cope with massive flooding, the group said Friday after rare cross-border consultations. The understanding was reached between four officials of the Korea NGO Council for Cooperation with North Korea (KNCCNK) and North Korean officials during the one-day trip to Gaeseong in the North.
It was the first visit by a South Korean group since the North reported that hundreds of people were killed and thousands left homeless by torrential rain and floods. The organization is an umbrella for 51 local aid groups.Lee Yun-sang, vice president of the group, said the package would consist of food ― perhaps in the form of flour ― along with medical and other supplies.
“I think aid goods could be delivered to the North as soon as possible if the (Seoul) government is cooperative,” Lee said.Two other groups have applied for visits next week, after the North responded positively to an inquiry by the KNCCNK.
Visits and aid packages to the North must be approved by the Ministry of Unification.Pyongyang, which suffers from poor infrastructure and deforestation, frequently requests aid after downpours. Providing help, however, has been tricky for the government since the North’s two deadly attacks in 2010, after which Seoul levied sanctions.
The measures initially included NGOs but the administration has since allowed the groups to provide flour, medicine and other aid on a case-by-case basis.Cross-border tensions have continued under North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who took over in December, as the regime still hurls rhetoric at the conservative Lee Myung-bak government.
Last summer Seoul offered to send medicine and basic necessities such as blankets and instant noodles, but Pyongyang rejected the package, requesting cement and other food stuffs instead.
The international community remains concerned that certain supplies such as rice are diverted to the North’s military.