Saturday, June 09, 2007

North Korea Misuses Aid Funds

According to a recent State Department report, it seems that the North Korean government has not been properly managing the funds it has been receiving for the country's poor. The report also claims that the UN made a few mistakes which allowed for such actions and even helped them to obtain equipment for a weapons program. Although not particularly surprising or new, the revelations are nonetheless disturbing. I also find it ironic that those that help out North Korea the most (South Korea, US, UN) are also some of the most criticized nations and/or international organizations in North Korea. If the NK people knew where their aid were coming from, I am not sure if they would feel the same way towards not only those entities, but also towards their own government.

If the reports are true, I think it is very sad for the people of North Korea and very immoral on the part of the government. Does that mean that organizations should stop donating to North Korea? I have mixed feelings on that question. On one hand, we don't want the funds to go towards military or weapons programs. On the other hand, I am not sure what else could be done to help the North Korean people, at least as far as humanitarian efforts are concerned. Maybe it would be better for NGO's rather than governments try to establish relations with North Korea in a way that would allow for some sort of on-the-ground oversight. Either way, it appears to be a very sticky situation.

1 comment:

Ally said...

The topic of the misuse of foreign aid funds is one that strikes a strong chord with me. I feel like I am always reading about developing countries misappropriating funds that are meant to help the poorest people in those nations. There are endless examples of this happening in Africa. One Wshington Post article that I found discussing this says, "Economic development in Africa [and I think also applies to NK] will depend -- as it has elsewhere and throughout the history of the modern world -- on the success of private-sector entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs and African political reformers. It will not depend on the activities of patronizing, bureaucratic, unaccountable and poorly informed outsiders.Development everywhere is homegrown." The link:

I also have some personal experience with the issue. I worked for time in Haiti, a country that is notorious for its corrupt government that has basically left its people to die. I personally beleive that the success of nations such as these will depend on work from within. The US and Europe can raise awareness using celebrities, etc, but ultimately it will be the citizens themselves that have to reform. The West cannot save everyone... NGOs are a good start, but as history shows us, foreign aid is not always the best answer.