Upon completion of the $25mn remittance to North Korea, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in North Korea stated that “the money frozen in the BDA will be used for improving our people’s situation and for humanitarian works.” He praised North Korean diplomacy in the BDA matter and emphasized, “This BDA issue corresponds with the principle of ‘action for action,’ which was firmly agreed by 6 parties at the six party talks.”
North Korea values the BDA resolution as a symbolic end to what it claims has been hostile U.S. policy, and promises to adhere to the prior agreement with the U.S. to use the money for humanitarian purposes.
Defectors, however, doubt the statement from North Korea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs is true and that money so strenuously acquired by Kim Jong Il will really be used for the people. A defector said that “It is deplorable that the U.S. stipulated the money now in the hands of Kim Jong Il be used for the humanitarian purpose while knowing, along with South Korea, that would not be the case.”
In mid-1990s during the famine, the price of 1 ton of corn was 100 dollars. At the time, Kim Jong Il spent $890mn dollars for the reconstruction of Mt. Keumsoo Memorial Palace to house his father’s body. Had he been responsible for the lives of his people, that money could have purchased 8.9mn tons of corn—enough to feed the entire North Korea population for two years.
North Korean authority continues to exploit citizens who are forced to earn foreign currency, as already exposed by Daily NK correspondents and sources in “Inside North Korea.” Therefore, it is nonsense to believe Kim Jong Il will give back this money of secret origins to the people.
North Korean citizens are expected to pay a pre-determined amount of foreign currency every year to the authority acquired through alluvial mining, collecting pine mushrooms, or raising rabbits. Otherwise people have to offer allocated amounts of “patriotic rice,” dogs, or pork to the government.
People believe that the goods and money collected under the guise “earning foreign currency for loyalty” are used for “the Party’s official fund” and “the revolutionary fund.” In fact, it is a common knowledge among defectors in South Korea that the funds and goods flow only into Department 39 which manages Kim Jong Il’s private accounts.
Kim Jong Il wasted 22 months in solving the BDA issue. After signing the February 13 Agreement, North Korea could have received immediate, life-changing international oil and economic aid had Kim Jong Il decided to dismantle the nuclear facilities.
However, he protracted the BDA impasse with the U.S., delayed nuclear shutdown, and caused further suffering as a result of the diplomatic confrontation.
The most likely recipients of the “humanitarian aid” will be the military and Party entourage surrounding Kim Jong Il.