June 30 (UPI) — Threats of military action from Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, may have delayed South Korean plans for food aid, according to multiple press reports.
A South Korean unification ministry official said Tuesday Seoul is seeking ways to resume food assistance to North Korea through the World Food Program, Yonhap and Seoul Economic Daily reported.
The plan to send $10 million in food assistance to Pyongyang was being discussed in early June between former Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul and the executive director of WFP, the official said.
The two sides agreed to pursue food assistance that could go toward supporting women and children, but the following day Kim Yo Jong issued the first of many warnings against the South, the unification ministry source said.
Reports of South Korean plans to send food aid via the international organization come a day after Suh Ho, Seoul’s vice minister of unification, told a South Korean parliamentary committee there were plans to send $10 million in assistance through the ministry’s Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Council.
Kim Yeon-chul met with David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Program on June 3, according to Yonhap.
On Tuesday, the unification ministry said the timing of the project is “under review.”
The World Food Program project of providing nutrition to children and women in North Korea through supplies of micronutrient-fortified biscuits began in 2014, with $7 million worth of aid. Funds dwindled in 2015, to $2.1 million. In 2019, the North Korean food program distributed $4.5 million in aid, according to South Korean press reports.
In 2017, the WFP was forced to curtail food aid because of a shortage of funds.