The Korea Herald


Seoul hints at unconditional N. Korea aid


Published : Oct. 7, 2011 - 19:42

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South Korea should rule out political considerations when handing out humanitarian aid to North Korea, Seoul’s top presidential aide said Friday.

“Humanitarian aid should continue and when sending aid, the North Korean leadership and ordinary North Korean residents should be considered as separate entities,” Chun Yung-woo, senior secretary to President Lee Myung-bak for foreign affairs and national security, told a security forum in Seoul.

Pyongyang’s two deadly attacks against Seoul last year should also be pushed back in consideration when it comes to humanitarian assistance, he added.

“We cannot let 24 million people suffer because of what their leader did,” Chun said.

The remarks by the senior official indicate South Korea’s softening stance toward its northern rival which killed up to 50 people through naval and artillery attacks last year.

After the attacks, Seoul suspended all aid and dialogue for several months, pushing up tensions to the highest level in a decade.

However, the South Korean government has been recently approving a growing number of charity groups’ aid to North Korea. It has not resumed aid yet on the government level.

On the issue of discouraging North Korea into giving up its ongoing nuclear ambitions, Chun called on Pyongyang to accept preconditions for restart of the stalled multinational denuclearization dialogue, including a shutdown of its uranium enrichment program.

North Korea, apparently desperate for food and fuel aid that it once received in return for taking denuclearization steps as agreed upon at the multinational dialogue, has been increasingly expressing willingness to return to talks.

The six-nation talks, involving the two Koreas, the U.S., Japan, China and Russia, have been stalled since the end of 2008.

“North Korea claims that the six-party talks should be resumed without preconditions,” Chun said. “As a matter of principle, we have no intention to reward North Korea for its illegal nuclear activities.”

“The six-party talks will come back to life only if North Korea shows its sincerity by taking the required pre-steps, including a monitored shutdown of its uranium enrichment program,” he said.

In November last year, North Korea revealed to outside experts its uranium enrichment facility, which could provide the communist state with a second way of creating atomic bombs in addition to the widely-known plutonium program.

By Shin Hae-in (