▲ North Korea 1988. Photo courtesy Derzsi Elekes Andor
Today the South Korean Government approved an earlier plan to give 8 million dollars worth of aid to North Korea.
When first mentioned, the plan was controversial due to the recently announced UN sanctions and the fact that the day after the decision was announced, North Korea fired a missile over Japan.
However, as expected, the government has stayed true to its word and confirmed it will offer the humanitarian assistance.
The only thing that hasn't been confirmed is when it will be offered with the government simply stating that they will pay the money at "an appropriate time."
Where will the money go?
Of course, the money won't actually go to North Korea.
Instead, it will be given to the U.N. World Food Program and UNICEF. These two programs will spend the money on nutrient-rich food for children and pregnant women, vaccines, and other medical treatments.
While much of the media attention around North Korea focuses on the Kim family and their attempts at building a nuclear bomb, it is worth remembering just how dire a situation the rest of the country is in.
As well as its incredibly bleak human rights record which reportedly includes acts committed by the government that includes murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortion, and other sexual violence, the country has also recently been suffering a major drought.
Drought and malnutrition
This prolonged period of dry weather is said to be the worst since 2001 and has hit crop production in the already vulnerable state.
According to the UN report, stables such as rice, maize, potato, and soybean were hit which has threatened "food security for a large part of the population."
In fact, Karin Hulshof, Unicef's regional director for East Asia and the Pacific recently said, "Today, we estimate that around 200,000 children are affected by acute malnutrition, heightening their risk of death and increasing rates of stunting.”
North Korea has a history of severe famines and it frequently relies on international aid to feed its population.
One of the biggest famines came between 1996 and 1998. In 1988 the World Food Program, who will receive around 4.5 million dollars from South Korea this time around, planned to give a third of the population aid.
A further famine in 2001 meant that between the years of 1996 and 2001 around million of the country's citizens had received aid.
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