Why South Korea Won't Extend Development Aid to North

The north side of the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea. South Korea's constitution prevents the country from extending development funding to the North. Photo by: John Pavelka / CC BY John PavelkaCC BY

For South Korea, it is ideal but not feasible to provide development assistance to the North, according to the president of the Korea International Cooperation Agency.

Monitoring aid projects, Park Dae-won explained, is the biggest obstacle in providing development aid to impoverished North Korea, which rarely allows entry of foreign aid workers.

“When you give [official development assistance], you have to talk to the recipient government, visit sites, and carry out field studies. But this isn’t possible with North Korea,” Park told The Korea Times.

Moreover, South Korea’s constitution prohibits it from giving development aid to the North. The South Korean constitution does not recognize the North as a sovereign state.

“Giving development assistance to North Korea is illegitimate,” Park said.

Meantime, World Food Program Executive Director Josette Sheeran has appealed for aid to North Korea.

“Our assessed needs in North Korea for the nutrition-focused program that we have now are only 20 percent funded as it is,” Sheeran said Wednesday (Oct. 27) as she arrived in South Korea.

The United Nations agency needs USD45 million each year to feed 2.5 million children in North Korea, Sheeran was quoted by Korea Joongang Daily as saying.

“We’re way below those funding levels,” the WFP chief said.  

Sheeran will visit North Korea and China later this week.

About the author

  • Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.