News


DATE=4/15/98
TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT
NUMBER=5-40051
TITLE=KOREAN TALKS ISSUES
BYLINE=STEPHANIE HO
DATELINE=BEIJING
CONTENT=
VOICED AT: 

INTRO:   REPRESENTATIVES FROM BOTH NORTH AND SOUTH KOREA HAVE 
BEEN MEETING IN BEIJING TO DISCUSS PYONGYANG'S REQUEST FOR 
FERTILIZER AND SEOUL'S INTEREST IN REUNITING SEPARATED FAMILIES. 
AS  V-O-A'S STEPHANIE HO REPORTS, THE TALKS HAVE STALLED AS EACH 
SIDE SAYS ITS POSITION IS MORE HUMANITARIAN THAN THE OTHER SIDE.

TEXT: BOTH NORTH AND SOUTH KOREA ARE CLAIMING EXCLUSIVE ACCESS TO
THE MORAL HIGH GROUND.  IN NORTH KOREA, MILLIONS OF PEOPLE ARE 
BELIEVED TO BE STARVING BECAUSE OF A FAMINE CAUSED BY NATURAL 
DISASTERS AND BAD AGRICULTURAL POLICIES.   THE NORTH IS 
REQUESTING FERTILIZER FROM THE SOUTH TO USE IN SPRING PLANTING.

 SOUTH KOREA'S POSITION IS THAT IT WILL PROVIDE SOME AID BUT -- 
IN RETURN -- IT WANTS SOME CONCRETE DEVELOPMENTS ON THE ISSUE OF 
REUNITING AGING FAMILY MEMBERS SEPARATED BY THE KOREAN WAR.  
SOUTH KOREAN MEDIA ARE REPORTING THAT, OF TWO MILLION KOREAN 
FAMILY MEMBERS SEPARATED DURING THE WAR, ONLY ABOUT 400 THOUSAND 
PEOPLE ARE STILL ALIVE AND MOST OF THEM ARE OVER THE AGE OF 60.

THE SOUTH KOREANS SAY THE REUNION ISSUE IS HUMANITARIAN AND 
URGENT BECAUSE FAMILY MEMBERS ARE DYING OF OLD AGE.   HOWEVER, 
THE HEAD OF THE SOUTH KOREAN DELEGATION -- VICE-MINISTER JEONG 
SE-HYUN -- SAYS THE TWO COUNTRIES HAVE DIFFERING VIEWPOINTS.

        // JEONG AND TRANSLATOR ACTUALITY //

  (KOREAN) BUT THE NORTH KOREAN SIDE, UNFORTUNATELY, THEY STRESS 
THAT THIS HUMANITARIAN SEPARATION OF FAMILY ISSUE IS A POLITICAL 
ISSUE, AND THEY ARGUE THAT THIS FERTILIZER ISSUE IS A 
HUMANITARIAN  ISSUE.

         // END ACTUALITY //

TO PREPARE FOR REUNITING KOREAN FAMILIES, SOUTH KOREA IS 
DEMANDING THE RE-OPENING OF LIAISON OFFICES IN THE BORDER 
VILLAGE, PANMUNJOM, THAT WERE ABANDONED BY NORTH KOREA IN 1996.

IN NORTH KOREA, SEVERAL YEARS OF BAD HARVESTS HAVE CREATED A DIRE
FOOD SITUATION.   ONE REASON PYONGYANG MAY CONSIDER THE REUNION 
ISSUE POLITICAL IS BECAUSE RESIDENTS IN THE STARVING NORTH COULD 
SEE CONDITIONS IN THE SOUTH ARE BETTER.

THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE WORLD FOOD PROGRAM, CATHERINE 
BERTINI, RECENTLY VISITED THE COUNTRY AND SAYS THE EFFECTS OF 
HUNGER THERE ARE PAINFULLY VISIBLE.

            // BERTINI ACTUALITY //

 WE SAW CHILDREN WHO ARE LISTLESS, WHO DON'T HAVE ENOUGH FOOD, 
WHO HAVE DISTENDED BELLIES, WHO HAVE SORES ON THEIR HANDS.

             // END ACTUALITY //

THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY DONATED ONE MILLION TONS OF FOOD AID 
TO NORTH KOREA LAST YEAR.  MS. BERTINI SAYS THE OVERALL NEED WAS 
ONE-POINT-THREE MILLION TONS.

A REPORT BY THE GROUP DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS SAYS THE NORTH 
KOREAN GOVERNMENT AND MILITARY ARE KEEPING THE FOOD SUPPLIES FOR 
THEMSELVES AND LEAVING THE NORTH KOREAN PEOPLE TO STARVE.  THE 
REPORT SAYS SOME NORTH KOREANS HAVE HAD TO RESORT TO CANNIBALISM 
TO STAY ALIVE.

 THE WORLD FOOD PROGRAM'S CATHERINE BERTINI SAYS SHE CANNOT 
CONFIRM REPORTS OF CANNIBALISM, BUT SAYS SHE WOULD NOT BE 
SURPRISED BY HIGH DEATH TOLL FIGURES IN NORTH KOREA.

 DELEGATIONS FROM BOTH SIDES ARE CONTINUING TO DISCUSS THESE AND 
OTHER RELATED ISSUES IN A BEIJING HOTEL.   THE VICE-MINISTERIAL 
MEETING IS THE HIGHEST LEVEL TALKS BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES 
SINCE THE DEATH OF NORTH KOREAN LEADER KIM IL-SUNG IN 1994.   
(SIGNED)

 NEB / HO / GC / WD

 

15-Apr-98 4:32 AM EDT (0832 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America
.