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North Korea Calls For Aid, Condemns War Moves

By Hilda Cuzco, The Militant, Vol. 60 no.15, 15 April 1996

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 an 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, hostile elements, 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 peanuts.

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 Seoul government 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 unauthorized visit to Pyongyang and participating in a national reunification conference that took place there August 14, 1995.