Friday August 24, 2012
S. Koreans visit North Korea to discuss flood aid
SEOUL: South Korean activists on Friday visited North Korea, pledging aid following deadly floods in the communist state, after winning approval for the trip from Seoul's conservative government.
A four-member delegation representing an array of non-governmental organisations in South Korea left for Kaesong city in North Korea, just across the border.
"Many North Koreans have been affected by the floods. We will discuss with North Korean counterparts what they need, such as food and medicine," Lee Yun-Sang from the Korea NGO Council for Cooperation (KNCC) told journalists.
The delegation plans to return to Seoul late Friday.
The North's Council for National Reconciliation sent a message last week to the KNCC, accepting the group's offer of discussions on flood aid despite years of frosty official relations between Pyongyang and Seoul.
South Korea's Unification Ministry on Thursday gave its blessing to the trip. All cross-border contacts require government permission by law.
The impoverished North is grappling with the after-effects of floods in June and July that killed 169 people and left about 400 missing, and made more than 212,000 people homeless, according to official figures from Pyongyang.
The rare cross-border trip came as the South Korean and US militaries conduct a major annual joint exercise, which North Korea has denounced as a rehearsal for an invasion. - AFP