Public Needs Clear Talk About Aid

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Public Needs Clear Talk About Aid

Representative Kim Deog-ryong of the Grand National Party caused a stir on Monday when he told the National Assembly, "In May, South Korea and the United States discussed the idea of replacing a light-water reactor for North Korea with a thermoelectric power plant and direct provision of electricity to North Korea from the South." He exhibited documentation to back his claim, but the government denied that such alternatives had been studied.

Even without examining the veracity of the evidence put forward by the opposition lawmaker, circumstantial evidence abounds. When it comes to North Korea, the government has persistently hidden matters related to taxpayers'' money from the public, making Rep. Kim''s assertion all the more plausible.

The lack of transparency in North Korea policy gives rise to rumors of secret pledges between the two Koreas. We still do not know, for example the entire picture of food aid to the North.

The completion date for the nuclear power reactors promised to the North in 1994 has slipped, and many observers predicted that a different form of aid would be substituted to bridge the gap between the North''s demand for compensation for ending its nuclear program and U.S. reluctance to provide 500,000 tons of fuel oil for longer than the period originally agreed.There is a rumor that government offices, the Korea Electric and Power Corporation and Hyundai plan to provide a total of 2 million kilowatts of electricity to North Korea, including 500,000 kilowatts for the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

There is a problem if alternatives to the construction of light-water reactors are being examined without the participation of South Korean citizens, who are ultimately to pay the bills. Unification Minister Park Jae-kyu said Monday that the government does not plan to secure National Assembly approval even when massive amounts from the North-South Cooperation Fund are spent. It is highly likely then, that the direction of future aid to North Korea and economic cooperation will be very different from what the public wants.
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