09/06/2006, 00.00
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North Korean military misappropriating humanitarian aid destined for the civilian population

A three-hour tape shows the "Dear leader's soldiers taking food meant for the population in violation of the agreements signed with Seoul. A deserter from the North says that at least 70 per cent of the food is taken by the army.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – Rice shipped to North Korea as humanitarian aid to the population has ended up in army messes rather than on civilians' tables, this according to a North Korean deserter. His claims cannot be easily dismissed after the appearance of a three-hour tape showing army trucks and personnel taking humanitarian aid away.

Ho Hye-il, a security guard in Kim Jong-il's regime, writes in his memories published on June 30 that "[o]nly 30 percent of the ration supplied from South Korea is distributed to North Koreans, while the rest is going to military sites as soon as it is delivered".

When the book was released, Pyongyang dismissed Ho's claims as "a lie that deserves to be punished with prison". Three months later, the film confirms everything.

The visual document was shot on May 24 by the refugee security guard who crossed North Korea's southern border into South Korea where he left the tape before successfully seeking political asylum in a third country.

South Korea's Weekly Donga published the first frames showing Communist soldiers loading army trucks with rice bags carrying the seal of the Republic of Korea.

This is entirely illegal because the agreement on humanitarian aid between the two Koreas clearly stipulates that only humanitarian organisations like the Red Cross can take charge of the shipments.

From July of last year to February of this year, South Korea's Ministry of Unification has delivered 500,000 tonnes of rice. "The monitoring is conducted by four delivery personnel, but there's a limitation of inspection since they do not reside in North Korea," an official of the Ministry of Unification said.

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