Seoul waits for Pyongyang’s payment

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Seoul waits for Pyongyang’s payment

South Korea yesterday expressed its regret at the North’s inaction over hundreds of millions of dollars in overdue debt the communist country owes Seoul, urging Pyongyang to repay the money.

In loans of rice and corn, promised in a landmark 2000 summit between the two Koreas, South Korea provided the North with food worth a total of $720 million until 2008.

Including interest accrued on the food loans, the North is required to repay some $875 million by 2037, with the first installment payment of $5.83 million having come due on June 7.

The North, however, remained mum over the overdue debt, causing Seoul to issue a second reminder of the missed debt repayment to Pyongyang earlier in the day.

A copy of the reminder was faxed to the North in the morning, while a hard copy was shipped to the country through express mail, according to the Ministry of Unification handling inter-Korean issues.

The first reminder was sent to the North on June 8, one day after the payment was missed.

“Without any explanation, the North did not make its repayment on the pre-set date nor did it show any response to our call to pay up,” the Unification Ministry’s spokesman Kim Hyung-suk said.

“This constitutes a violation of the inter-Korean pact and the [South Korean] government expresses deep regret,” Kim said, urging Pyongyang to show sincerity in the implementation of the agreement.

As more than 30 days have passed without a response from the North after Seoul sent its first reminder, the South is entitled to declare Pyongyang to be in default to the international community.

But Seoul is not planning to make such a declaration anytime soon, the spokesman said, adding, “Taking the step of issuing another repayment call is the custom of the international community.”

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