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S. Korean firms plan flour aid for flood victims in Kaesong

All Headlines 11:22 August 25, 2011

SEOUL, Aug. 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korean firms operating in an inter-Korean industrial complex plan to send flour aid to North Korean flood victims in their host city of Kaesong, an official said Thursday.

The move comes after South Korean civic groups gained government approval last month to send more than 2,000 tons of flour to poverty-stricken North Koreans, enabling the first deliveries of flour since Pyongyang's deadly attack on a frontline island last November. Seoul had been reluctant to resume flour aid amid widespread allegations it is diverted to Pyongyang's military or ruling elites.

"We plan to send 100 million won (US$92,115) worth of flour on humanitarian grounds to the Kaesong area, which was hit hard by floods this year," said an official of an association of South Korean firms at the factory park. "We will apply to the Ministry of Unification next week for approval," the official added, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs in the South, is expected to conduct a careful review of the request in light of the sanctions Seoul imposed on North Korea last year for the island shelling and the March sinking of a South Korean warship, which together killed a total of 50 South Koreans.

The sum was donated last year by some 120 South Korean firms operating in the industrial zone. It was originally earmarked for rice aid for last summer's flood victims, but the plan was put off as inter-Korean relations tumbled to their lowest point in decades.

The firms plan to deliver the flour to daycare centers and other facilities throughout Kaesong, which lies on the border with the South.

North Korea recently reported dozens of deaths and injuries from heavy rains that pounded the country throughout the summer. The floods also reportedly submerged thousands of hectares of farmland and destroyed large numbers of houses in the North, which has repeatedly suffered from flooding due to its lack of investment in disaster control and severe deforestation.

The industrial complex in Kaesong, an achievement of the first-ever inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang in 2000, combines South Korea's capital and technology with the North's cheap labor to produce clothes, utensils, watches and other goods.


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