There is a perennial question in Korean unification studies – should humanitarian and food aid be provided to North Korea? Grand National Party (GNP) spokesman Ahn Hyoung-hwan stated that government leaders are reviewing whether to provide food aid after a meeting on Sunday with the party’s chairman. This question will always be here… here are some of the answers that are also always here:
For some, it is “YES – BECAUSE FOOD AID SAVES LIVES”. Humanitarian aid and food aid are saving lives. It is directed as best as can be, to those in the most need. It helps children, mothers, and the elderly, who are, but for a thin veneer of political and historical difference, much the same as anyone south of the border.
Regardless of the type of government in the North, we are talking about human lives. Imagine the death of one individual, one family member, because of hunger and it is too much. While we live in the riches of the south with our broadband, designer clothes and flash cars, they are watching their family members suffer and die of hunger.
For some, it is “YES – BECAUSE FOOD AID WILL PREVENT COLLAPSE“. Providing humanitarian and food aid will prevent the collapse of North Korea, which would result in a much greater catastrophe. Floods of refugees would stream south over land and by sea, by any means to reach food and safety. The cost of unification has been estimated at at a range from USD 500 billion to a tremendous USD 5 trillion. This will impact the lives and lifestyles of every individual on the Korean peninsula, north and south. Broadband, designer clothes and flash cars, would not be so readily affordable.
For some, it is “NO – BECAUSE FOOD AID HELPS THE KIM FAMILY REGIME“. Every assistance given to the North Korean people lets the Kim family regime spend an equivalent amount on maintaining the survival of the regime, whether it is paying off military leaders, constructing larger gulags or building bigger bomb shelters. It is the duty of every South Korean to accept collapse of the North in order to free our brethren. What we couldn’t do by arms, we will do with money now that we can afford it. This is what our grandparents fought for in the Korean War and this is what we must pay for now.
For some, it is “NO – BECAUSE WE CANNOT REWARD PROVOCATION“. Normally, it is acceptable to provide humanitarian and food aid, just as we do for countries in Africa, South America, or developing Asia. But we would not provide food aid to a regime that kidnaps or terrorizes our people. Do we provide food aid to the Taliban? We can provide food aid, but only when the North apologizes for the sinking of the Cheonan and commences talks on its nuclear program. North Korea is a country in the international system like any other, and we must treat it so.
The Unification Ministry stated on Monday that it has no immediate plans to resume food aid to North Korea. We’ll see…