January 26, 2017
South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh reveals that President Obama provided humanitarian aid earmarked for flood relief through the United Nations to North Korea just before leaving office. The article notes that the provision of aid could provide needed momentum to reset US-DPRK relations by the new Trump administration.
The US government has reportedly sent humanitarian aid earmarked for flood relief to North Korea’s North Hamgyong Province via the UN.
“Shortly before President Obama left office, the Obama administration sent humanitarian aid to North Korea by way of the UN, and the Trump administration is planning to make this public before long,” an expert on the Korean Peninsula in Washington who is familiar with affairs in the US government told the Hankyoreh on Jan. 24. This expert said that American aid to North Korea was at a “symbolic level” and did not mention the exact size or the items provided.
This is the first humanitarian aid the US government has given to North Korea since it gave US$900,000 through the independent relief organization Samaritan’s Purse in 2011. Even as the Obama administration toughened its independent sanctions against the North in response to North Korea’s fourth and fifth nuclear tests, it allowed humanitarian aid from the private sector but did not provide any governmental aid.