South Korea Regrets North Korea’s Silence on Repayments
South Korea expressed regret Monday at North Korea’s silence over requests to start repayments for past food aid worth $720 million.
The South’s unification ministry, in charge of cross-border affairs, said the North had not responded to Seoul’s earlier request to pay up.
“This constitutes a violation of a pact between South and North Korea. Our government expresses deep regret,” spokesman Kim Hyung-Suk told reporters.
Under the previous left-leaning government, the South provided the North with some 2.6 million tons of food worth $720 million in six installments between 2000 and 2007.
The food aid was provided in the form of a cheap loan, with repayments to be made over 20 years.
Seoul sent a notice through its Export-Import Bank in May giving advance notification that the first payment, including interest, of $5.83 million was due on June 7.
It sent a new notice on Monday after its impoverished neighbor failed to respond.
The South could declare to the international community that Pyongyang is in default, but the spokesman said Seoul would not do so anytime soon.
The South has also lent the North equipment and materials worth $140 million for railways and roads, and another $88 million for developing light industry and natural resources.
The food and fertilizer aid ended after President Lee Myung-bak took office in early 2008 and rolled back the “sunshine” policy of aid and engagement with the North.