Wednesday, July 06, 2011

On the Debate of Aid to North Korea

An opinion offered by Kim Yong-soon, research fellow at the Institute of East and West Studies, Yonsei University:

There have been many voices heard from both in and outside of the South Korean government advocating the resumption of aid to North Korea. The debate between the doves and the hawks has raged on ever since the peninsula was divided in 1945. 

The possibility of resuming aid to North Korea begs the question of “to whom are we sending our aid to?” Is the aid going to the North Korean regime or is it going to the North Koreans who are in dire need of such aid? Neither the South Korean government, nor anyone else, can verify, let alone designate, where the aid is going to.

It is conventional wisdom that the aid is in fact going to the areas and people that the North Korean regime will designate, leaving the donors powerless to attach any means to enforce measures that ensure that the aid goes to the people that are in need. 

Thus, the aid originating from South Korea has not served its twin goals of relieving the dire situation of the North Korean people and obtaining the ability to influence North Korea in any positive way, and has remained symbolic at best. 

The only goal that the aid has served is the self-satisfaction gained by those that have advocated continuous aid to the North with vague hopes of reaching out to the ordinary North Koreans.

EU sends food aid to North Korea

The European Commission announced that it would provide 10 million euros ($14.50 million) of food aid to North Korea despite South Korean opposition and US doubts as to the veracity of Pyongyang's calls for help.  

The European Commission said it was convinced that the North's pleas for help were genuine after a team of experts reported seeing in June severely malnourished children in hospitals and nurseries where no treatment was available.

"The purpose of this aid package is to save the lives of at least 650,000 people who could otherwise die from lack of food," European Union Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said.

The EU's decision comes as Washington also weighs resuming food aid to the North, after suspending its shipments in 2008 in a monitoring row.

Analysts said any resumption of US aid would annoy Seoul, which stands firmly against sending food to its neighbor.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

On North Korea being named to chair UN's Conference on Disarmament

The naming of North Korea's Ambassador So Se Pyong as chair of the UN's Conference on Disarmament drew sharp criticism from Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. 

"North Korea is simply not a credible chair of a disarmament body," he said of the bellicose nuclear-armed state, which faced UN accusations as recently as May of trading missile know-how with Iran. Baird said the appointment was "unacceptable" given North Korea's "efforts in the opposite direction." 

Meanwhile, another veteran Canadian diplomat, Marius Grinius, used his farewell address to the conference to congratulate the North Koreans! Grinius went on to recall his memories of visiting Pyongyang, capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The fact the UN reports that other ambassadors — including Britain's — also welcomed the appointment of the North Korean illustrates the make-believe world that defines the UN, where diplomats of even the most heinous regimes are routinely treated as respected equals. It implies that a disconnect exists between the internationally based members of the bureaucracy, and the government.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Five North Korean students enroute to US

Five North Korean defectors, now  students in college, will soon experience the American way of life. This is thanks to the concerted efforts by the U.S. Embassy, the Ministry of Unification, and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

The five North Korean defectors presently in South Korean universities have qualified to participate in the W.E.S.T. (Work, English Study, and Travel) program. The five are scheduled to leave in July, according to the ministry officials. 

Generally, students would have five months of English language education, 12 months of internship, and one last month of traveling. The five will go through a modified program on a trial basis, staying for five months of English lessons and an additional month of work.