June 29, 2015 12:18
South Korea gave W56.6 billion in humanitarian aid to North Korea over the past five years, less than two percent of the W3.37 trillion it provided in Official Development Assistance to other countries over the same period (US$1=W1,120).
Seoul gave W2.267 trillion to 70 developing countries last year. Some W36.7 billion went to Sri Lanka, more than twice as much as to North Korea.
But Sri Lanka's per-capita GDP stood at US$3,153 in 2013, more than five times more than North Korea's.
Many countries that get generous aid from South Korea are better off than North Korea. Azerbaijan and Colombia for instance have a per-capita GDP of more than $7,000.
While aid to foreign countries increases every year, aid for the North has been declining from W198.3 billion in 2007 to W14.1 billion last year. It fell to a low of W2.3 billion in 2012.
Meanwhile, the international community gave North Korea W330.7 billion in aid over the last five years, including W36 billion from Switzerland and W25.9 billion from Sweden. The two countries have no political interests in the North.
The situation is the same for South Korean charities. World Vision and Good Neighbors for instance spent W419.3 billion to help African countries in 2013 but only W5.1 billion on North Korean aid.
Some experts warn that Seoul cannot afford to neglect North Korea if it wants to rein in the cost of reunification.
One staffer at the Korean NGO Council for Cooperation with North Korea said, "This is like ignoring our own backyard while cleaning up somebody else's."
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com