February 08, 2019 12:54
The Seoul Metropolitan Government has amassed a W40 billion fund to promote exchanges with North Korea (US$1=W1,126). The fund was created in 2004.
Data obtained by Korean Patriots Party lawmaker Cho Won-jin showed that the city government has allocated W25 billion to the fund this year, the biggest in 14 years, raising the total amount to W39.2 billion.
This year, the city wants to spend W15 billion, among other things to help Pyongyang upgrade its water supply and sewage system with W1 billion, establish a smart city platform in the North Korean capital for another W1 billion, spend W3.2 billion on cultural exchanges, and invest in solar infrastructure in Pyongyang.
The city had allocated virtually no money to the fund since 2005 but changed its mind after Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon visited North Korea in September last year as part of President Moon Jae-in's entourage.
At that time, Park said, "I spoke with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un about the water quality of the Taedong River and offered to cooperate based on Seoul's experience cleaning up the Han River."
None of the projects can go ahead while sanctions against North Korea remain in place, but the city hopes they will be lifted after Kim meets with U.S. President Donald Trump later this month.
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