The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has appealed
for more international assistance to relieve food shortages caused by
disastrous floods during August and September of last year. Pak Dok
Hun of the North Korean mission to the United Nations in Geneva made
the request April 1, citing a UN estimate that the DPRK has
urgent need of 1.2 million tons of grain by October. He asked the
United Nations to resume all efforts for assistance.
On February 7, Pyongyang had halted appeals for aid from foreign
relief agencies because, according to Pak,
mainly in South Korea, were trying to use this appeal to demand
political concessions from North Korea.
U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Glyn Davies said April 1 that
no new U.S. aid would be considered, stating that Washington had
already contributed $2 million. In a February interview with the
Washington Post, Assistant Secretary of State Winston Lord described
that amount as
Heavy rains last year washed away paddies and rice storages in the northwestern region of the DPRK, the main source of rice for a population of 21 million. The total damage is estimated at $15 billion. According to a report on the devastated areas published in the February issue of U.S. Asian News magazine and reprinted in the People’s Korea weekly, a total of 690,000 people have been affected. Fifty-nine hospitals and clinics, 466 nurseries, and over 1,000 schools have been destroyed.
Kim Kwang Jin, first vice minister of the DPRK’s armed forces,
issued a statement March 31 condemning recent military exercises by
South Korean and U.S. forces in the area.
The south Korean
authorities regarded the temporary difficulties facing fellow
countrymen in the wake of flood damage as a good chance for northward
invasion, and spread false rumors about `collapse’ of the north
while obstructing international humanitarian assistance to the
DPRK, Kim said.
This was part of a provocation for war. The
is seeking a way out of the political and
government crisis in war, he stated.
Some 200 protesters demonstrated March 11 in front of the Seoul District Court, where two former South Korean presidents are on trial, demanding punishment for those involved in the 1979 coup and the bloody suppression of the Kwangju civil uprising in 1980. On February 27 the Journal of Commerce published a report revealing that former U.S. president James Carter and former South Korean president Chun Doo Hwan approved plans for a military attack against antigovernment demonstrations that rocked Korean cities in 1980. Since the publication of that report protests have taken place across South Korea.
Meanwhile, an emergency meeting of North Korean youth and student
representatives took place in Pyongyang March 5. They urged the South
Korean government to release two students, Jong Min Ju and Ri Hye
Jong, who are imprisoned in Seoul for making an
visit to Pyongyang and participating in a national reunification
conference that took place there August 14, 1995.