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Engagement With North Korea: A Viable Alternative

September 30, 2009

A new book Engagement with North Korea: A Viable Alternative released in September 2009, by SUNY Press, features a chapter written by The Asia Foundation’s Country Representative in Seoul, Edward Reed. Dr. Reed’s chapter, “From Charity to Partnership: South Korean NGO Engagement with North Korea,” discusses the contribution of South Korean NGOs in reducing South-North tensions. Reed also examines the scope of South Korean non-governmental humanitarian assistance to the North and concludes that the major NGOs have adjusted their strategies over time to ensure greater impact on the people and improved transparency. NGOs have also served as consistent, unofficial channels of contact between South and North while official relations have fluctuated. This point has been confirmed over the past year as some NGOs have continued their aid programs, though at a reduced level, at a time when official contact between the two sides has been blocked. Dr. Reed concludes:

“NGO engagement represents the first steps toward people-to-people reconciliation between South and North Korea. Given the vast economic gap between the two sides, NGO engagement will continue to have an essential role to play, not only in addressing humanitarian and development needs in the North, but, more importantly, in creating the multiple strands of human contact on which reconciliation and unification must be built.”

Read a review of the book in The Washington Times.

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