South Korea’s government last year executed the smallest amount of its inter-Korean cooperation fund in a decade, officials said Sunday, in another reflection of frayed relations with the communist North Korea.
The Unification Ministry, in charge of North Korean affairs, spent 42.6 billion won ($36.6 million), or 4.2 percent of the 1.1 trillion won fund designated as “South-North Cooperation Fund,” the ministry officials said.
The fund was used to support a Korean dictionary project, a humanitarian program by the United Nations Children‘s Fund as well as operating a facility for family reunions and an association for the inter-Korean industrial complex, they said.
Last year’s spending was the lowest level since 2000 when the two sides held their landmark summit talks and agreed on a wide range of cooperation projects as part of their reconciliation efforts.
Inter-Korean relations went to the lowest ebb in a decade after the North‘s two deadly provocations in 2010 that killed 50 South Koreans.
In 2008, when President Lee Myung-bak took office with a hard-line stance on North Korea’s nuclear program, the cooperation fund‘s execution rate plunged to 18.1 percent from 82.2 percent in 2007 under the liberal predecessor Roh Moo-hyun, the report noted.
The rate had remained at the 7 percent level between 2009 and 2010, it said.
The fund was created in 1991 to support humanitarian and economic exchanges between the divided Koreas, which remain technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce. (Yonhap News)