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North snubs flood aid offer

Consignments of food and medicines dismissed as "trifling"

  • Stephen Hong, Seoul
  • Korea
  • September 13, 2012
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North Korea has flatly rejected Seoul’s offer of aid to flood victims with officials in Pyongyang calling the amount and type of aid on offer an insult and not needed, the North’s state-run Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) reported today.

The rejection comes days after the North indicated it would accept aid from the South.

“The South insulted us again with trifling aid" and by publicly saying they would not send rice, cement or construction equipment, the KCNA report said.

The North had contacted its arch rival earlier in the week, with the Red Cross acting as an intermediary, to explore what could be sent.

Pyongyang had hoped the aid would include cement and construction equipment, but the South is unwilling to give such items, fearing the communist state will use them for military purposes.

The South’s Unification Ministry said yesterday it had sent a consignment on Tuesday which included 10,000 tons of flour and three million packets of noodles, as well as medicines amounting to 10 billion won (US$8,860,000).

However, North Korea sent a letter yesterday, saying “We don’t need such aid,” a ministry spokesman said. The government had hoped the aid would help North Korean flood victims, so “the rejection is regrettable,” he added.

According to the KCNA, floods in June and July left 569 people dead or missing while Typhoon Bolaven, which recently ravaged the North, killed 176 and displaced over 212,000.

North Korea also turned down a similar offer of assistance last year after its request for rice, cement and construction equipment was similarly turned down by Seoul.

South Korea has banned all contact – other than humanitarian – with the North after a South Korean naval vessel was attacked and sunk in May 2010.

Related reports

North accepts South Korea’s aid offer
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