South Korea's Unification Minister Lee In-young delivers an opening speech during the 2020 Korea Global Forum for Peace in Seoul on Sept. 7, in this photo provided by the ministry. The meeting went online this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Ministry of Unification)
Unification Minister Lee In-young said Thursday that South Korea should provide food and fertilizer aid to North Korea next spring at the latest to help the impoverished nation address chronic food shortages.
"There are warnings that the coronavirus is crippling production and supply chains for crops, and climate change is making things worse, which will likely cause extreme famine and difficulty in securing food," Lee said at an international forum in Seoul to discuss ways to realize a world without hunger.
"Against this backdrop, we cannot help but think about North Korean residents suffering from a triple whammy of the fallout from flood, the coronavirus and sanctions," he added. "If necessary, South Korea should seek to cooperate with the North at a right time through such ways as (provision of) food, fertilizer and others around spring next year."
Lee said that the two Koreas could turn the Korean Peninsula into a "more stable" region if they cooperate not just against the global pandemic but also in natural disaster and climate change areas.
"To this end, we intend to make a system for more predictable and stable cooperation," he said. "We will create a framework for sustainable cooperation by going beyond the pattern of a one-off event and generate a new momentum for overall cooperation in the humanitarian business."
Lee said that humanitarian cooperation between the two Korea should be carried out in a manner in which both sides seek the road to "co-existence," not in a way in which one country unilaterally provides assistance to the other. (Yonhap)