May 21, 2019 09:37
Seoul on Monday announced a plan to speed up US$8 million worth of humanitarian aid for North Korea through an international agency and called for a reopening of the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex.
Unification Ministry spokesman Lee Sang-min told reporters the government has allowed South Korean manufacturers to visit the industrial park in the North Korean border town recently to "protect their property."
"We need to reopen the complex because it is an important tool for the development of inter-Korean relations and peace on the Korean Peninsula," he added.
The industrial park cannot be reopened under current sanctions, but the government here seems determined to dangle the prospect before North Korea as an incentive to give up its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Asked if Seoul has been exchanging opinions with North Korea about the manufacturers' trip to Kaesong, Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul said yes.
The ministry also promised to make sure that the food aid is delivered to the North as soon as possible.
The North claims to be suffering a severe food shortage, but there are suspicions that the regime is exaggerating the dearth to force a partial lifting of sanctions or save money to spend on its weapons programs.
Kim is gathering public opinion in preparation for sending food aid to the North. In a bid for support, he met with university presidents in the morning and talked with Catholic Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-joong in the afternoon.
But there has been no expression of gratitude from the North, which has broadly ignored South Korea since establishing a direct line to the U.S.
Commenting on a recent meeting of a South Korea-U.S. working group, the North Korean propaganda website Uriminzokkiri said, "Foolish activities are continuing to try to solve inter-Korean and national issues, depending upon outside forces."
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