Thursday, October 27, 2011

Summary of North Korean Food Aid Debate in October 2011

October 6

Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik told an annual parliamentary audit of his ministry in charge of relations with North Korea that the North's rice crop did appear to be falling a little short of the average, but said "I don't think (the food situation) is very serious," without elaborating further or giving any figures.

October 7

State Department spokesperson claims that the US is still evaluating North Korea’s needs. The statement outlines US concerns that “the aid provided not only by the United States but by the international community went into regime hands rather than into the hands of hungry people.” Calls for better monitoring system.

October 13

Jim White, vice president of operations at Mercy Corps, and Matt Ellingson, director of program development at Samaritan’s Purse, reported that they were very satisfied with monitoring and oversight of the food aid. This conclusion was drawn from their weeklong trip in the provinces of North Hwanghae, South Hwanghae and Kangwon, the region that was most severely hit by monsoon-strength storms this summer.

October 17

Valerie Amos, a U.N. undersecretary-general, arrived Monday in Pyongyang, where she said she plans to hold talks with officials on long-range plans for meeting the country's food needs.

October 21

Valerie Amos said Friday that 6 million North Koreans, particularly children, mothers and pregnant women, need help.

Amos said she'd been given rare access to a government public distribution center, where rations that have fallen from 21 ounces (600 grams) a day to 7 ounces (200 grams) a day per person are handed out, as well as to a private market where more nutritious food is available at prices far beyond the means of most North Koreans.

October 23

Amos insisted that responsibility for solving repeated food crises lay with North Korea’s government and its need to tackle the underlying causes of poor agricultural production.

October 24

Valerie Amos told reporters in Seoul that the core principle with respect to humanitarian aid was that it should not be politicized.

Amos said the North has endured a "food gap" of about 1 million tonnes out of a total food requirement of 5.3 million tonnes for the past few years.

DPRK vice foreign minister Kim Kye-gwan meets with Bosworth in Geneva.

October 25

North Korea has invited a coalition of South Korean non-governmental groups to visit the DPRK. Park Hyun-seok, secretary general of the Korea NGO Council for Cooperation with North Korea (KNCCNK) that comprises more than 50 groups, said coalition representatives were invited to Pyongyang to discuss overall issues from Wednesday to Saturday.

Seoul, which must approve travel to the DPRK, denied the request, citing a lack of monitoring.

US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said no decision on the food assistance had been made, adding that the issue will be strictly separated from the North's nuclear development programs.

In addition, the State Department rejects the notion that the US is holding up its decision on food aid for political or policy reasons.

Furthermore, it clarified that potential food aid to Somalia did not conflict with the possibility of providing food aid to the DPRK.

October 26

The US government is reportedly preparing to resume food aid to North Korea, but will stagger the aid in a series of deliveries.

A source close to the North has told Yonhap News that Washington plans to restart the humanitarian assistance that stalled in 2008 amid uncertainties over the rightful distribution of 170-thousand out of the pledged 500-thousand tons of food.

No significant breakthroughs in denuclearization talks between the DPRK and US in Geneva


  1. Hi Yong, can you cite your source for the October 26th news? I haven't heard this before. Thanks.

  2. This is the source of the suggestion that the US may be possibly resuming food aid: