12/13/2012, 00.00
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Pyongyang's rocket launch starving "20 million people"

by Joseph Yun Li-sun
Mgr Lazarus You Heung-sik, bishop of Daejeon and president of the Episcopal Commission for the case of migrants, talks to AsiaNews about North Korea's latest provocation. "It was a terrible waste of money, which could have been used to feed North Koreas. The Church will continue its support projects but things will be increasingly more difficult."

Seoul (AsiaNews) - North Korea's rocket "came with the price of people starving to death," said Mgr Lazarus You Heung-sik, bishop of Daejeon and president of the Episcopal Commission for the care of migrants. Speaking to AsiaNews, he explained that "The Catholic Church is completely opposed to Pyongyang's provocations. But what makes me personally ache is to think about the number of human lives that could have been saved with the money wasted by the northern regime on this rocket."

The prelate knows the situation in North Korea very well. He has often travelled to the country and follows a number of charity projects based on economic co-operation and the development of the local economy.

From this perspective, "The rocket was huge error," he noted. "What we always told our counterpart is that, even if they were scientific projects, they are a huge waste of money. They must feed people first."

According to South Korean government estimates, Pyongyang has spent US$ 1.74 billion on its rocket programme since the 1990s. The figures are confirmed by the regime itself.

The money spent on launching the Unha-3 rocket could have bought 5.8 metric tonnes of maize, which could have fed 20 million people for 19 months.

"People are starving to death," Mgr You explained. "This waste of money is crazy. In any case, the Catholic Church is not discouraged. We continue with our projects and are trying to get into the North by any way possible. Patience and a desire to help our brothers are weapons stronger than rockets. Still, as things stand now, the situation will get worse."

The Unha-3 rocket has already had an impact on South Korea's presidential vote, set for 19 December.

The two leading candidates, Moon Jae-in for the Democratic United party, and Park Geun-hye for Saenuri, have opposing views on how to deal with Pyongyang.

"Moon is for dialogue, whilst the conservatives have always been fiercely opposed to a policy of peaceful confrontation," the prelate said. "This latest provocation changes the electoral situation as well. Now voters are deciding who is more useful and better against the [northern] regime."

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