Firm stand on North aidThe government has constantly changed its stance on providing food aid to North Korea. It set a precondition that North Korea should require aid to get food but soon that precondition vanished. The government talked about supplying food to the North indirectly through international agencies but it has stopped discussing that plan. Instead, the government said it would have direct talks with North Korea. It is unclear what the South Korean government intends to do and how. A principle in food aid is gone and the government is anxious to provide the North with food aid.
The reason why such an eccentric situation has arisen is clear. The government is not confident to stick to the principle it has made. Since taking office, the administration has set reciprocal inter-Korean relations as a principle for providing aid to the North, although it may not have been absolutely strict.
In the course of negotiations over North nuclear development, however, circumstances have changed. For example, the United States started to provide food to the North. Amid such change, the South Korean government is uncertain which way to turn. If the administration changes its stance soon after declaring a principle, it is the same as admitting that it failed to foresee even the near future.
Things are the same with humanitarian food aid. We firmly believe that humanitarian food aid must be delivered to the North to secure the survival of North Koreans. But no matter how we maintain this view, there is no point if North Korean authorities don’t accept aid.
The South Korean administration has scrapped its precondition that the North must request aid first, but the North doesn’t give any response. Instead, North Korea is intensifying its criticism about the Korean president and government. Nothing can work in a situation like this.
The South Korean government must find firm footing. It must declare that there are no conditions attached to humanitarian aid. It is not good if authorities give only a vague hint. The unification minister must declare it officially.
Then we can wait for the North’s response with patience. If the North refuses to receive aid, it is then clear who is to blame in the end. At the same time, more thorough and insightful analysis on the North Korean regime is needed. The South Korean administration must abandon its assumption that the North will request food aid because it is having difficulty in getting food.