Master plan for North aidIn 2001, the JoongAng Ilbo suggested spending 1 percent of the national budget, which was 1.6 trillion won ($1.6 billion) at the time, to help North Korea. The purpose was to ease distrust between the South and the North and create a breakthrough for peaceful co-existence by providing epoch-making and systemized support to the North.
But this suggestion didn’t lead to a government policy. The first reason was that resolutions for North Korea’s nuclear issue were not found. Particularly in 2001, as the George W. Bush administration of the United States took a hard-line North Korea policy, the North Korea nuclear issue worsened. Because resolutions to the issue that might destroy all Koreans were hard to find, the argument to provide aid to the North was not persuasive. Besides, the Kim Dae-jung and the Roh Moo-hyun administrations upheld an engagement policy with North Korea. While the militaries of both countries confront each other at the truce line, the two former administrations closed their eyes to national security issues. Instead, they had the illusion that if we understand North Korea’s stance and provide aid, the North will become friendly in return. As a result, the people had negative perceptions about giving aid to North Korea.
Now things have changed. The North Korean nuclear issue is being resolved at increasing speed. The North’s nuclear programs haven’t been fully abolished, but for the first time the country is disabling its nuclear facility and is about to give a declaration of its nuclear activities. The United States and North Korea are building trust, step-by-step, a positive factor to maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula. Most of all, the South has a conservative administration for the first time in a decade. In general, conservative administrations put an emphasis on national security. If an administration that holds the opposite position from the North Korean regime provides aid to the North, then South Korean people will worry less than they did under administrations that tried to understand the North.
The rest is up to the political circle. When providing aid, 1 percent of the national budget, which is now 2.5 trillion won, to the North is necessary and the National Assembly must take responsibility. In the National Assembly, a special committee for improving inter-Korean relations was formed in 2000. We hope the 18th National Assembly will have a strong sense of duty for history and examine our suggestion sincerely. The special committee should draft a master plan for aid to North Korea.