North Korea has requested help from South Korea to cope with devastating floods, a South Korean citizens’ group said, a move that could improve inter-Korean relations chilled by the North’s recent missile launches.
It was the first time the communist nation has officially requested South Korean aid since flooding in mid-July spawned by heavy rains
The North asked South Korea to provide food, blankets, medical supplies and construction materials and equipment including cement and trucks to help it recover from the disaster, said Park Ji-yong, an official at a South Korean committee working for reconciliation between the Koreas.
A private South Korean relief group sent flood relief to the North last week.
North Korea had initially said it would handle the disaster on its own and rejected aid from South Korea’s Red Cross, but a North Korean official said the country was in urgent need of food and would accept aid from South Korea.
Seoul refused last month to discuss regular humanitarian aid during high-level talks with North Korea, after the North Koreans refused to address the country’s missile or nuclear programs.
The North has told international aid groups operating in the country that it does not want them to launch an emergency appeal on its behalf. Such aid would likely come with requirements of strict monitoring to ensure those affected are benefiting, unlike with past South Korean aid that is virtually unmonitored.