Is cash for North wise?Using the Red Cross, the government has given North Korea $400,000 (3.7 million won) to buy equipment to broadcast family reunions through video conferences. An official from the Red Cross recently carried a suitcase loaded with the money and boarded a ship headed for Nampo in North Korea. The ship was transporting equipment and material to aid the North in reconstruction efforts from flood damage.
This is truly outrageous. This is happening even as it has become harder to wire money to the North due to frozen North Korean funds at Banco Delta Asia. That has virtually cut the North off from the international financial world. The idea to provide the North with $400,000 in cash is absurd. This is a move that is against the principles that the government itself established. In a report published by the Unification Ministry that came out after the North Korean nuclear test in October of last year, the ministry said that aid to the North is all in goods and that there is no support in cash. Nevertheless, this administration is not reflecting on its action and stubbornly argues that it has done nothing wrong.
On the international stage, foreign exchange transactions between nations are done through involved banks. That is because it provides transparency.
How can one ensure transparency when cash is being provided like this? Above all, the current method used could give the impression that the South is giving a tribute to a North Korea that is now armed with nuclear weapons.
The government has explained that the move was unavoidable in light of the family reunions and that it is trying to resolve a humanitarian issue. It has argued that North Korea does not have the ability to buy the necessary equipment while computers are on a list of banned goods to the North. Nevertheless, this is only an excuse. The South Korean government could have bought the computers from China or consulted with the United States and used the case of the Kaesong Industrial Complex. There were several options for the government. But this government has from the start deliberately overlooked such options and used a method that can be viewed by some as one that provides the North cash while avoiding monitoring by the international community.
One has to wonder and worry if this is a move by the government signaling that it does not care about the international community’s concerns anymore.