The majority of the aid — $6 million — will be provided by the South Korean government and shipped through Unicef, the United Nations children’s agency, which provides vaccines, medicine and nutritional supplements for malnourished children and pregnant women in the impoverished North. Five private humanitarian aid groups from South Korea will provide the remainder; they will also send medicine and food for young children.
The South Korean minister in charge of policy toward the North, Ryoo Kihl-jae, said the aid shipments were not linked to political issues. But the announcement was contained in a statement in which Mr. Ryoo also called for a final round of talks with the North to settle disputes over the Kaesong industrial complex, which has been closed since early April.
There was no immediate response from the North Korean government.
The economy in the North remains in dire shape despite international aid and gradual improvements in the North’s grain production in recent years. More than one-quarter of North Korean children under age 5 suffer from chronic malnourishment, according to surveys by the United Nations and international aid groups. South Korean government statistics showed that the North’s infant mortality rates in recent years were several times higher than those in the South.
South Korean governmental and private aid for North Korea plunged by more than 95 percent over the last five years. Conservative South Korean governments curtailed aid shipments and trade with North Korea, citing its nuclear weapons development and military provocations, like the sinking of a South Korean warship in 2010, for which the South Korean government blamed the North.
The North pulled its 53,000 workers out of the Kaesong industrial complex in April, citing military tensions that it said were caused by joint South Korean-American military exercises.
North Korea has insisted that the shutdown was the South’s fault. It has also accused the South of making unreasonable demands as a pretext to terminating the Kaesong project.