TITLE=NORTH KOREA / ECONOMIC AID (L-ONLY)
INTRO: South Korea says it is sending much more aid
to poverty-stricken North Korea this year than it did
last year. V-O-A's Alisha Ryu reports that South
Korea has good reasons for wanting to increase
TEXT: Seoul's Unification Ministry says South Korea's
economic aid to North Korea in the first half of this
year totaled more than 67-million dollars - a 48
percent increase from the same period last year.
Government contributions, mainly in the form of
fertilizer and medical supplies, accounted for 85
percent of the total amount sent. But the biggest
jump in donations came from private citizens who
contributed almost 10-million dollars worth of goods,
reflecting an increase of 134 percent from last year's
Years of political and economic isolation have left
the communist North one of the most impoverished
nations in the world. Floods and drought in recent
years crippled food production and the resulting
famine is estimated to have killed as many as two-
million people since 1995.
The government in Seoul says the increasing aid
reflects the easing of tensions on the peninsula,
particularly after the leaders of the two Koreas held
their first successful summit last month. They say
the much more affluent South is mobilizing out of
concern for the needs of a neighbor who shares
cultural, linguistic, and family ties with the South.
But Korea expert David O'Rear believes the South is
also motivated by self-interest.
/// O'REAR ACT ///
Think of it as a very large credit card debt.
If you pay it off this week instead of next
year, you save a lot of money. So, whatever
assistance South Korea can give North Korea now
is less (than) what it will have to pay in the
future in the event that there is unification.
/// END ACT ///
South Korea is currently the second biggest donor to
North Korea after the United States. The two Koreas,
however, still remain technically at war since the
Korean War ended in 1953 in an armed truce, without a
peace treaty. (Signed)
07-Jul-2000 06:52 AM EDT (07-Jul-2000 1052 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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