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Seoul to Provide Flood Aid to North Korea

  • Naomi Martig

The South Korean government has announced a more than $10 million aid package to help flood ravaged regions of North Korea. The move appears to reverse a decision to suspend aid to the impoverished North after Pyongyang test-fired several missiles last month. But Seoul insists the package is a one-time emergency relief measure.

South Korea's Unification Ministry says the $10 million package will go to private organizations working to provide relief for regions of North Korea hit by last month's floods.

The South Korean charities have also pledged to match the government funding.

Jeong Moon-hung is a lawmaker with South Korea's opposition Grand National Party.

Jeong says the government approved the package after lawmakers asked it to help North Korea with urgent flood relief needs, such as medicine and building materials.

The government says it will also send unspecified amounts of food and other supplies by the South Korean Red Cross.

The Unification Ministry stressed Friday that the decision to provide emergency relief to North Korea does not run counter to its decision to suspend regular aid.

South Korea stopped aid to the North shortly after Pyongyang test launched seven missiles on July 5, including one long-range missile.

Lee Seuong-yong, with the South Korean private charity, Good Friends, one of the organizations that encouraged the aid, praised the government's decision.

Lee urges the government to continue humanitarian aid to North Korea, despite tensions stoked by Pyongyang's missile launches.

North Korean officials formally requested flood relief from South Korea this week, after initially turning down aid offers from foreign relief agencies.

The landslides and flooding in North Korea have left hundreds dead or missing, but reports on numbers vary.

A South Korean aid group claims as many as 10,000 people are dead or missing. North Korea's government places the death toll at 549, with around 300 missing. The Red Cross figures are even lower, at around 150 dead.

The storms also destroyed vital crops, heightening concerns that North Korea could face a repeat of the famine that killed hundreds of thousands there in the 1990s.

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