Daily Management Review

Even As Kim And Trump Trade Threats, South Korea Approves $8 Million Aid For The North


Even As Kim And Trump Trade Threats, South Korea Approves $8 Million Aid For The North
In a move likely to muddle international efforts aimed at isolating the nuclear-armed state, South Korea on Thursday approved $8 million worth of humanitarian aid for Pyongyang.
In addition to $3.5 million worth of vaccines and medicinal treatments via UNICEF, the package will include $4.5 million in nutritional products for children and pregnant women through the World Food Program. The timing of the delivery has yet to be confirmed.
Even as other major players in the long-simmering crisis push for a tougher approach, the assumption that South Korean President Moon Jae-In isn't backing down from direct engagement with North Korean leader Kimm Jong Un is indicated by the news.
With Kim referring to the Republican’s U.N. speech as "the most ferocious declaration of a war in history", amid a swap of insults between the two leaders, President Donald Trump announced fresh sanctions against the rogue state on Thursday.
by ordering domestic banks to halt business dealings with the pariah nation, according to a media report, even China, which has long been reluctant to pressure the North, upped its stance on Thursday.
Political consultancy Stratfor said in a recent note that South Korea has been put at odds with its U.S. and Japanese counterparts by forging ahead with a softer stance on Kim despite the North's recent nuclear and ballistic missile test.
While Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged Moon to reconsider his strategy during a telephone call last week, earlier this month, Trump claimed on Twitter that Moon was "appeasing" Pyongyang. Warnings against any actions that would undermine pressure on the North was issued Japanese chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga.
Stephen Nagy, associate professor at Tokyo- based International Christian University, warned that Moon's conciliatory stance will certainly complicate efforts by the U.S. and Japan to isolate Kim.
However, compared with earlier packages, South Korea’s latest aid disbursement was relatively small.
Stratfor pointed out that since the past two decades with the exceptions of 1999, 2000 and 2016, Seoul has provided an average of $11.79 million in assistance per year to North Korea. "Seoul has also said it will link timing of the aid with North Korean behavior — a difference from its earlier no-strings-attached stance", Stratfor added.
December 2015 was the last time South Korea sent relief to its northern neighbor.
Still, whether resources will be diverted to the nation’s elite or military — a key issue for international agencies or whether will reach needy North Korean citizens remains to be seen.
for South Korea's long-term survival, the offer of humanitarian assistance could ultimately be necessary.
Nagy said on Friday that South Korea can't apply too much pressure on Kim because Seoul will bear the brunt of any North Korea retaliation.
"The idea is to educate North Koreans that they are getting aid from outside and show them that there's a care aspect to engagement," he said.
Troy Stangarone, senior director at the Korea Economic Institute said that Seoul maintains a different perspective due to its potential front-line status in any conflict, while South Korea, while the U.S. and Japan remain united on the main issues concerning the North.
"Part of finding a diplomatic solution to the problem involves retaining options that allow North Korea to see a better future and not closing all possible doors, even if the current environment is not conducive to humanitarian efforts," he said.