NGO asks gov’t permission to talks to N.K. officials to determine flood damage

A local non-governmental organization (NGO) has asked the government to allow it to meet with North Korean officials so it can determine the damage caused by the recent flooding, an official source said Sunday.

The unification ministry official said a group belonging to the Korea NGO Council for Cooperation with North Korea (KNCCK) made the request last week.

"The ministry is looking into the matter and will make its decision based on the need and urgency to provide assistance to the North," the insider said.

Since the North detonated its fourth nuclear device on Jan. 6, Seoul has effectively banned all contact between South and North Koreans and even forbid indirect contact such as letter correspondence via fax machine.

KNCCK, made up of several organizations, held a meeting of senior officials on Sept. 9 to provide assistance to North Korea, but it had to reconsider since the communist country detonated its fifth nuclear device soon afterwards.

Media reports posted last month indicated extensive damage in the North Hamgyong Province region in the country's northeastern region.

The United Nations said that the flooding that hit the area was the worst in 50 to 60 years, with some U.S.-based media outlets reporting last month on the destruction of up to 100,000 homes, although exact figures are hard to confirm.

There has also been a significant loss of life in regions hardest hit by the flooding.

"The request will go through due process and take into account various factors like the severity of the damage," a unification ministry official said. He added that Pyongyang has not formally asked Seoul for assistance to recover from the flooding.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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