Tuesday, November 1, 2005


Great article by Stephen Linton, who is a family friend. I'm not sure if I agree with his subtle point at the end about "Korea would be much less of a headache for everyone if North and South were more dependent on each other — even if it meant being less dependent on everybody else."

Too many variables to discuss here... or I'm too lazy right now. A brief point is that dependency can be good, but as this leads to reunification it really is important on how it occurs and who is influencing whom. In the wildest scenario, if reunification occurs and North Korea has more influence on South Korea (i.e. Communism spreads south) than it's a bad thing and I would not be support of such a process. Anyway, Linton is first a humanitarian rather than a policy-maker, so his interests are different than others. Here is his op-ed:

LONG KNOWN for surprises, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea — better known as North Korea — again shocked the international humanitarian aid community when it announced recently that it wouldn't accept any more emergency food aid.

This edict was accompanied by a request that the U.N. World Food Program, which has been shipping hundreds of thousands of tons of food to North Korea, shift to "development aid" and withdraw the food monitors charged with making sure food goes to those who really need it.

Actually, no one should have been surprised. After all, this is the 10th year since the international community responded to Pyongyang's call for help with one of the largest emergency aid programs in history. From the beginning, North Koreans made it clear that international aid was welcome, but only until they were able to do without it. Numbers have a particular significance in Korean culture, and anything that lasts over 10 years has the odor of permanency.

Apparently, North Korea has decided that it's time for a change. And I agree.

First, contrary to the claim that more than 6 million North Koreans might starve if international aid dries up, there is no food emergency in North Korea today. For two years after the 1995 floods that triggered the famine, countless displaced persons wandered the countryside in a desperate search for something to eat. Some went to China, precipitating the international community's belated interest in North Korean refugees. Most border traffic today is about trade, not hunger.
(full article)

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