Seoul Vows to Send Aid to Drought-Hit North Korea

Seoul vowed Monday to move quickly on its plans to provide $8 million worth of humanitarian aid to its northern neighbor, while it also considers sending food to the country that says it’s suffering its worst drought in decades, TIME reported.

Lee Sang-min, spokesman of Seoul’s Unification Ministry, said the government will discuss its plans with the World Food Program and the United Nations Children’s Fund, through which the aid would be provided, so it reaches North Korean children and pregnant women quickly. South Korea is also trying to build public and political support for providing food aid to the North, either directly or through an international organization.

 “The government will first discuss with international organizations over the provision of aid and take measures so that the support arrives (in the North) quickly,” Lee said. “On the matter of direct aid, we will consider the matter while sufficiently garnering the opinions of our citizens.”

North Korea’s state media said last week that the country was suffering its worst drought in more than a century amid reported food shortages.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has expressed hopes that aid will help revive diplomacy and engagement with Pyongyang, which tapered off following a high-stakes nuclear summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump in February that broke down over mismatched demands in sanctions relief and disarmament.

Moon’s government has yet to decide on concrete plans amid growing public frustration over North Korea, which resumed short-range missile tests recently that were apparently aimed at pressuring Washington and Seoul, TIME added.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said last Wednesday that an average of 54.4 millimeters (2.1 inches) of rain fell in North Korea from January to early May in 2019, which it said represented the lowest level since 1982. That was two days before the state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper said the average precipitation of 56.3 millimeters (2.2 inches) from January to May 15 was the country’s lowest since 1917.

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