North Korea, which has so far resisted overtures from the new South Korean government that has been less hard-line than previous conservative administrations, will likely receive $6 million from Seoul to help finance this year’s census activity in North Korea
According to the South Korean government on Thursday, Han Sung-yeol, North Korea’s deputy foreign minister, visited the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) office in New York last month and asked for funding for its census activity this year.
The UNFPA asked Seoul if it can contribute $6 million. In return, it proposed that Pyongyang share the census finding with Seoul and allow South Koreans to train the surveyors.
The government is mulling to pull the money out of the South-North Cooperation Fund where 200 billion won ($176.4 million) is immediately available.
The statistics office is preparing the census design and training group.
Seoul will demand South Korean officials to join the census activity for this year and next. The annual census activity begins in October. Seoul has big interest in North Korean census surveys as the data are crucial for post-unification policy.
In 2008, it provided the UNFPA $2.3 million for North Korea’s population census and another $1.3 million for a social and demographic survey in 2015.
Inter-Korean cooperation and aid have come to a full stop over the last nine years under the conservative governments and international sanctions following North Korea’s deadly attacks to South Korea and missile and nuclear tests.
By Kim Se-woong and Ahn Byung-joon
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