Is International Aid 'Carrot' or 'Stick' to North Korea?
By Pyun Ja-seong, Student Editor
The Chonnam Tribune has started a new column, “Roundtable” to broaden students’ global perspective and deepen their understanding of international issues based on a monthly study group discussion at Chonnam National University (CNU). This month, Kim Hye-yeon (School of Economics), Kim Ji-young (Dept. of Food & Nutrition), Kim Min-jung (School of Business Administration), Park Young-joon (Senior, Dept. of Laws) and Yoon Hoon-sang (Dept. of Chinese Lang. & Lit.) shared their views on foreign aid to North Korea on February 20th. –Ed.
Five students are discussing North Korea's nuclear test and an international aid
Since North Korea’s 3rd nuclear test was successfully conducted on February 12th, world leaders have rebuked North Korea for abandoning its obligation to world peace and security. International organizations such as the United Nations (UN) and the European Union made a pronouncement that appropriate measures will be taken against North Korea. As a result, providing aid to the country became a hot issue. International aid has been promoted with the hope that it would result in a positive effect upon North Korea’s attitude. People like economist Jeffrey Sachs who insists that increased foreign aid will eventually lead to world peace. South Korea has supported North Korea during the past 10 years. However, due to the recent nuclear test, the effect of South Korea’s aid for North Korea will be put to the test.
Does South Korea have to continue to provide aid for the North? About North Korea’s nuclear test, some participants in the discussion said that North Korea should not have done the nuclear test which went against the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. About the aid, Park Young-Joon said that even though North Korea performed the experiment, people should consider an opportunity cost between aid and restriction. But the participants also showed their concerns for the ‘moral hazard problem’ tendency of the North Korean government, especially the use of the aids for their people. There are suspicions that most of the provided aid to North Korea has been used for the benefit of the members of the military, not for the people of the North who have been suffering from a famine. “International organizations need to monitor how the North Korean government uses humanitarian assistances,” Yoon Hoon-sang said.
North Korea already did their nuclear test and they already notified China regarding their next nuclear test and there is still no talking between North Korean and South Korean government. What should the Southern government do in this situation? Should we enforce sanctions or try a peaceful way, for example, the six-party talks? Some participants who are proponents of the aid revealed that both sanction and conciliation is necessary, but its weight adds to the peaceful manner. Kim Ji-young said, “Foreign aids will work well for sanctions so South Korea would focus more on conversation with the North.” Yoon Hoon-sang said that we should create a friendly atmosphere with the Northern government through human resource exchange, technical exchange, or tourism industry as we did in the past at the North’s Kumgang Mountains.
What can the South Korean government do to settle the relationship with the North Korean government? Kim Hye-yeon said, “South Korea should keep in touch with the Chinese government who is the closest ally with North Korea that can communicate with the North Korean government.” Kim Min-jeong added to Kim Hye-yeon’s opinion. “We need to relieve the North Korean government’s anxiety through the Chinese government and make them speak their minds. At the same time, we should devote ourselves to the strength of diplomatic power.” But, the highest priority is the resumption of talks with North Korea. Therefore, proponents agreed that it is best for the South Korean government to focus on maintaining relationships with North Korea.
South Korea was appointed as the non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2013 and 2014 and can have a strong influence on North Korea related issues. This opportunity will be the key to open the door to dialogue with the other Korea.