Eugene Bell Foundation Chairman
By Gil Yun-hyung, staff reporter
While North Korea prohibited members of the Corporate Association of Kaesong Industrial Complex (CAKIC) from entering the North, it granted access to representatives of the Eugene Bell Foundation. The foundation has been providing humanitarian and medical aid to North Korea for some time.
On Apr. 18, the Eugene Bell Foundation announced that a group of nine people who had been staying in Beijing waiting for their North Korean visas, including Chairman Stephen Linton and a group of donors to the foundation, finally received their visas that afternoon and boarded a plane bound for Pyongyang.
"Even this morning, it was unclear whether they would be allowed to enter the country, but fortunately the visas were issued in the afternoon,” a representative of the foundation said.
This is being seen as showing that North Korea is linking the Kaesong Industrial Complex issue with the current political situation on the Korean peninsula, but that it is willing to receive humanitarian support. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that the group visiting North Korea includes eight Americans and one French person, but no South Korean nationals.
The Eugene Bell Foundation, which operates tuberculosis clinics in eight areas in North Korea, including Pyongyang and Nampo, has sent representatives to North Korea twice each year in order to assess whether the tuberculosis medicine that it provides is being used properly. These visits continued to take place during the Lee Myung-bak administration (2008-Feb. 2013).
On Mar. 22, the foundation sent North Korea 678 million won (USD$604,267) worth of tuberculosis medicine in keeping with the principles of Park Geun-hye’s trust-building process for the Korean peninsula, which does not link humanitarian aid with the North Korean nuclear weapons issue. This medication left Pyeongtaek harbor and arrived at Nampo harbor on Apr. 4 by way of Dalian, China.
Meanwhile, the owners of the businesses at the Kaesong complex that were prohibited from entering the North on Apr. 17 have decided to try once again to visit the North on Apr. 20 via the CIQ (customs, immigration, and quarantine) office in Paju, Gyeonggi Province.
The Ministry of Unification announced on Apr. 18 that eight more employees who had been staying in Kaesong had returned to South Korea through the CIQ office. This brought the number of South Korean employees still remaining in the complex two weeks after North Korea blocked traffic from entering to 197, less than one fourth of the original total.
Please direct questions or comments to [firstname.lastname@example.org]