September 02, 2020 11:55
The Unification Ministry has increased the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund by around W38 billion or 3.1 percent for next year, a spokesman said on Tuesday (US$1=W1,185).
The ministry fattened the fund to increase cooperation in public health, quarantine, and anti-disaster efforts despite North Korea's total refusal of assistance.
In the ministry's budget for 2021 approved by the Cabinet Tuesday, the fund increased by from W1.206 trillion to W1.244 trillion.
The budget for healthcare and medical cooperation swelled from W58.5 billion to W95.5 billion in a bid to prevent the spread of African swine fever and coronavirus, even though there is no indication that North Korea will or can cooperate in any way.
The allocation for efforts to prevent flooding of rivers shared by the two sides also grew significantly from W600 million to W6.5 billion. Again North Korea has refused flood aid from South Korea in recent weeks, and North Korean officials are reportedly under strict orders to accept no outside aid, ostensibly because of fears that it might be "contaminated."
But the budget for more specific causes has been slashed. The allocation for the reunions of families separated by the Korean War was cut by 25.1 percent from W28.07 billion to W21.03 billion, and rice aid by 16.1 to W118.9 billion.
The figures are purely academic, but the target for reunion events has been lowered from eight to four per year and for rice aid from 200,000 tons to 150,000 tons.
At the same time, the defense budget has been increased at an even greater rate of 5.5 percent to W52.9 trillion.
Some W906.9 billion of that goes to the KF-X "Boramae" fighter jet project, W525.9 billion to a 3,000-ton submarine project, and W309.4 billion to the K-2 tank project.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com