SEOUL, Sept 12 Impoverished North Korea rejected
South Korea's offer of emergency food and medicines to help
recover from devastating summer floods, two days after accepting
what would have been the first shipment of government aid from
Seoul in two years.
Wealthy South Korea said last week in an unusually grim
assessment of the North's grain harvest that crop production for
the year probably dropped more than 10 percent due to flooding
and a drought.
North Korea rejected help from the South, saying, "That type
of support is not needed", an official at the South Korean
Unification Ministry said on Tuesday.
North Korea has a record of flip-flopping on international
agreements, especially on deals reached in so-called six-party
talks to halt its nuclear weapons programme.
The South's offer came after the U.N. World Food Programme
said last month it would send a first batch of emergency food
aid to North Korea.
After the initial offer to provide aid made on Monday
through the Red Cross, South Korea had said it was willing to
send an initial shipment of ship flour, instant noodles and
Past discussions have been fraught with complications,
highlighting the sensitive nature of the rivals' ties in recent
years. The two sides remain technically at war after their
1950-53 civil conflict ended in a truce, not a treaty.
South Korea's offer of help last year was pulled when the
North asked for building materials and equipment instead of food
and medicine worth nearly $5 million as offered.
Since the death of the North's hardline ruler, Kim Jong-il,
last December, the country's new leadership under his youngest
son, Kim Jong-un, has increased its verbal attacks against the
South, and relations have gone back into deep freeze.
North Korea, which has been accused of channelling much of
its scarce resources to running its military and its arms
programme, has trouble feeding its population of 24 million even
in years of good harvest.
Conservative South Korean President Lee Myung-bak ended a
decade of lucrative large-scale aid to the North when he came to
office in 2008 demanding Pyongyang stop its nuclear arms
programme and initiate economic reforms first.
Until the flooding this summer, Lee's government has played
down the North's food needs, saying the North Korean regime may
be exaggerating conditions to extract international aid.
(Reporting by Ju-min Park; Writing by Jack Kim; Editing by Nick