Sunday, April 22, 2007

Brotherly Love

After five days of negotiations on food aid and Pyongyang's nuclear program, including an unscheduled fifth day of talks, South Korea has agreed to resume food aid to the North, which was suspended after Kim Jong-Il's regime conducted missile tests in July of 2006.

Seoul will send 400,000 tons of rice aid across the 38th Parallel in the spirit of "brotherly love," according to this article from BBC News. Delivery of the rice will be contingent on progress in the stalling 6PT dialogue, as was suggested by the statements of some South Korean officials from earlier this week.

This development puts another wrinkle in the debate over whether the North can be trusted and whether engagement is truly the best policy. While clearly rice aid is a humanitarian endeavor with no immediate bearing on the DPRK nuclear program, it is not clear that this much needed food will go to the right places. Given the class system in the North and the "military first" doctrine, I am not convinced that this rice will do all of the good that it can. Rather than help hungry people, it might just alleviate domestic pressure on a brutal regime.

No comments: