Friday, July 14, 2006

Biting the hand that feeds you

South Korea, which has generally opposed harsh methods to deal with North Korea, yesterday cut off humanitarian aid to its isolated neighbor.

South Korea on Thursday suspended humanitarian aid to North Korea until it agrees to return to international nuclear-disarmament talks.

The action infuriated visiting North Korean officials, who immediately cut off high-level talks in South Korea and returned home.

The decision to postpone consideration of a North Korean request for 500,000 tons of rice marked the South's first punitive action against its impoverished communist neighbor since it defied the international community and test-fired seven missiles, including a long-range Taepodong-2, on July 4.

On the one hand it's called "humanitarian aid" for a reason, and shouldn't normally be subject to the vicissitudes of politics.

On the other hand, maybe the North shouldn't be antagonizing the countries that it relies on for food.

What's amazing to me is that North Korea still talks about juche.

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