North Korea Refuses New Food Aid

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SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA: North Korean officials have refused new offers of food aid for their flood-damaged country, saying they are "disappointed" by the response to their appeal. Even as he praised U.S. efforts, Pak Dok Hun, a North Korean spokesman in Geneva, said that North Korea decided not to request more aid even though the country is gripped by food shortages, and struggling to repair an estimated $15 billion in flood damage. Hun accused "hostile elements" (translation: South Korea) of obstructing aid from the United States and other nations. According to the U.N. Department of Humanitarian Affairs, only $4.8 million of a requested $20.1 million has been donated. Unmoved by the tales of sickness, misery and starvation relayed by U.N. relief workers after last year's heavy flooding, South Korean officials accused the North of inflating damage estimates and keeping huge reserves of food for its 1.2 million strong army.