SEOUL, Dec. 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will provide some 2 billion won (US$1.72 million) to the Korean Red Cross to help North Korean villages still reeling from the aftermath of typhoons that lashed the impoverished nation last summer, the unification ministry said Monday.
The Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Council approved the expenditure plan to provide the money to help North Korea repair typhoon-hit facilities in Pyongan and Hamgyong provinces and conduct drills to beef up North Koreans' disaster preparedness, according to the ministry.
Of the total, 807 million won will be spent on boosting the North's disaster control ability, while another 544 million won will be spent on providing safe water to North Koreans and improving the overall sanitation status. The other 654 million won has been set aside for public health activities, it said.
"The government will support the Korean Red Cross' humanitarian activities in North Korea and continue to seek inter-Korean cooperation in disaster responses," the ministry said in a release.
Still, it is unclear whether the North will accept the aid amid chilled relations across the border.
In June, South Korea announced the plan to provide 50,000 tons of rice to North Korea via the World Food Programme, but the North has reportedly rejected the assistance.
Last week, Seoul said it will carry over the money for the project and continue to push for the provision next year, but one of the North's propaganda outlets, Uriminzokkiri, on Sunday lashed out at the South for "clinging" to such aid when the counterpart is repeatedly refusing it.
"South Korea should better focus on its own domestic issues if it has time to waste on such useless actions," the propaganda outlet said in a commentary.
Five years after its full nuke armament claim, N. Korea's threat becomes real, further complicated
(News Focus) S. Korea grapples with calls for nuclear armament
Talk of 'normalizing' GSOMIA raises hope, skepticism around Seoul-Tokyo ties
S. Korea, U.S., Japan close ranks amid growing N.K. threats
N. Korea says month-old virus crisis under control, but skepticism lingers