[imText1]Professor Yoo Ho Yeol says the recent World Food Programme report on the need for food aid for North Korea is not only inadequate, but also, in some parts, distorted.
“The joint investigation team containing the WFP and others estimated North Korea’s total food production at an inappropriate time,” Professor Yoo told the event, a discussion forum organized by Grand National Party lawmaker Kwon Young Se, this morning, “Furthermore; the research target areas were geographically disadvantageous in terms of crop.”
The joint investigation was conducted during February and the first half of March, and against the backdrop of the obtained results the WFP claimed that more than six million people were set to need assistance.
Professor Yoo cautioned that in the more than 40 counties and cities visited by the investigation team, the fall harvest had already been collected, while the probable harvest in areas with winter crops under cultivation was calculated according to worst-case scenarios.
“In terms of the fact that persons able to get distribution and facilities etc were excluded from the investigation, the concrete judgment of the lack of food was inadequate,” Professor Yoo concluded.
“For specific areas and groups which cannot obtain the benefits of the market, support is possible; however, this must be done temporarily, to a limited extent and with conditions,” he insisted in conclusion.
On the other side, there were calls from experts for aid to commence even if monitoring remains imperfect, in part because of the positive effects this could have on North Korea.
Professor Kim Keun Sik of Gyeongnam University, one of those in favor of food aid, explained, “This can have the effect of causing North Korea to open more, and rather than the spirit of enemies, it can create a spirit of reconciliation.”
Professor Kim, however, admitted that transparency of aid could not be guaranteed, saying, “In reality, guaranteeing complete transparency of humanitarian aid to a third world country is impossible.”
Kwon Tae Jin of the Korea Rural Economic Institute pointed out that North Korea is guilty of making its own problems, but nevertheless added, “Humanitarian aid must go to those who need it.”
Kwon continued, however, “It is better for small scale aid to be delivered in advance through NGOs, and rather than rice, flour and corn flour aid are more appropriate.”
Elsewhere, Sohn Gwang Ju of the Gyeonggi Research Institute added that there is a pressing need to find alternative ways to deliver aid, rather than government to government, explaining, “There must be channels to deliver it to the people and markets.”
“The question of whether or not to aid is finished,” he added. “Only the question of method by which to reach the intended beneficiaries remains.”