S Korea to deliver aid to mourning North
Seoul - A South Korean group will deliver 180 tons of flour aid to North Korea in the coming week, an official said on Friday, the first shipment from the South since leader Kim Jong-Il's death last month.
Seoul's unification ministry said it has approved a visit to the North by several representatives from the Korea Peace Foundation from January 27.
"The mourning period is over in the North and the normal administrative process has resumed. As part of this process, North Korea accepted the visit," said Kim Hyung-Suk, a spokesperson for the ministry which must authorise all cross-border contacts.
Kim died on December 17 and was succeeded by his son Jong-Un.
The group plans to deliver the flour to an elementary school and a day care centre in the western province of North Hwanghae on January 27.
Two members will remain there until the following day to monitor whether the aid reaches the children in need, the ministry said.
The flour, worth $87 700, was donated by South Korean companies operating in the Seoul-funded industrial estate in the North Korean city of Kaesong.
The South's government stopped its own annual major food and fertiliser shipments to the North after President Lee Myung-Bak's conservative administration took office in early 2008.
But it has been allowing humanitarian aid by civic groups, mostly modest in scale.
Tensions rose sharply after the South accused the North of torpedoing a warship with the loss of 46 lives in March 2010, and the North bombarded a South Korean frontline island in November 2010 with the death of four people.
The North has taken a hostile tone with the South's government under its new leader, accusing Seoul of failing to respect the mourning period for the late leader.
A state body on Thursday made fresh criticism of what it called "traitor" Lee, rejecting the South's recent overtures to resume dialogue.