North may have made slip of the tongue over aid

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North may have made slip of the tongue over aid

The difficulty of monitoring the distribution of food aid in North Korea remains an issue that is largely keeping the South Korean government from releasing any more than a minimum amount. A recent comment in the North Korean media may be proving Seoul’s decision correct in refraining from sending large-scale relief.

“Our farming laborers will, with rifle in one hand and a scythe in the other like in the war for independence, make a decisive change this year in agricultural production and serve to send more rice for our military, which will strike open the head of the traitor and enemy, Lee Myung-bak,” said Kim Yong-bok, a North Korean official in charge of managing factories in the North.

The statement had been announced through North Korea’s official radio broadcaster on July 4 during a mass rally in Pyongyang. Later, the same comment was used for a television broadcast of the event later that day, without any mention of the South Korean president or rice for the military.

The news agency also omitted the mention of Lee and rice for North Korea’s military when reporting about the mass rally, resulting in intelligence and government officials in South Korea to suspect it may have been a broadcasting mistake on the North’s part.

“The comment was probably deleted just in case it may lead to further problems involving the military’s storage of rice when North Korea is requesting aid from the international community through South Korean nongovernment organizations,” said a South Korean government official.

North Korea’s military has been under strong suspicion of hoarding rice aid supplies from years before from various countries, including the South, and preventing the relief from reaching ordinary citizens.

The North’s military was found on roughly 10 occasions to have stored about 400 sacks of rice meant for relief on their bases in February 2008 before the Lee Myung-bak administration was in place, according to the South Korean Ministry of National Defense. Last September, then-Grand National Party floor leader Kim Moo-sung had said during a meeting at the National Assembly that he suspected North Korea’s military had stored up 1 million tons of rice for its soldiers.

A female North Korean defector in her forties who had recently entered the South said during a press conference on July 7 that ordinary citizens “do not even see a glimpse” of rice sent as aid from other countries.

Seoul has not yet released an official report on North Korea’s harvests from last year, but in official reports it has said North Korea’s food situation is not worse than any other year. South Korean government officials have also said the military’s hoarding is in part to fulfill North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s goal of becoming a “strong and successful country” by 2012.

However, recent torrential rains could possibly turn the South Korean government around on handing out aid to the North.


By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]
북 “군량미”연설 내용, TV서 삭제

북한 관영매체들이 평양에서 열린 군중집회를 보도하면서 김영복 만경대남새(채소)공장 관리위원장의 ‘군량미’ 관련 언급을 삭제한 뒤 방송한 것으로 드러났다. 17일 정부 당국에 따르면 북한의 라디오매체인 조선중앙방송은 지난 4일 열린 평양시 군민(軍民)대회를 실황중계했다. 김 관리위원장은 “우리 농업 근로자들은 (중략) 농업생산에서 결정적 전환을 일으키며 매국 역적 이명박 역도의 골통을 까부술 우리 군대에게 더 많은 군량미를 보내주기 위한 투쟁에 한 몸까지 바쳐나가겠습니다”고 말했다. 그러나 조선중앙TV는 이후 보도에서 군량미 관련 대목을 삭제했다
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