South revives aid to train North medics in Germany

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South revives aid to train North medics in Germany

The Park Geun-hye administration will provide financial aid to educate a group of North Korean medical professionals who are part of a training program in Germany, the Ministry of Unification announced Wednesday.

According to the ministry, 90 million won ($83,000) from the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund will be provided to the Korea Foundation for International Healthcare, an arm under the Ministry of Health and Welfare, for its program to educate North Korean medical professionals.

The assistance program has been shut down for seven years, but the Park government decided to resume it as part of recent efforts to provide more humanitarian aid to the North.

North Korean medical professors have been invited to Germany for training under the sponsorship of the German Medical Association since 2001.

North Korea and Germany formed the joint association in 2001 and have been operating the program together.

In 2007, the South Korean government first provided assistance to the project through the Korea Foundation for International Healthcare.

At the time, 60 million won was provided to invite a group of doctors for training for six months in Germany.

Twelve doctors, including those specialized in cardiology and dermatology from Pyongyang Medical College and Red Cross General Hospital in Pyongyang, participated in the program in March 2008.

In the same year, financial aid was provided for a similar program, though the project has stopped since then.

Funding from the state-operated Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund to North Korea for aid projects has been suspended for years with relations between the two Koreas frozen, particularly after Pyongyang torpedoed South Korea’s Cheonan warship in 2010.

The Park government said earlier this month that it will begin offering funding to North Korea through private aid groups for the first time in five years, in an apparent move to engage Pyongyang.

Established in 1991, the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund is a government-operated fund to assist North Korea.

The ministry already selected 13 private aid groups at the end of last year to provide 3 billion won from the fund for health, agriculture and livestock programs in the North.

BY SER MYO-JA [myoja@joongang.co.kr]


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