In the larger picture, many international groups, the UN, for example, have chosen not to donate supplies to North Korea because North Korea will not allow inspectors to go in and see where the food and such are going. South Korean groups have taken up the slack and are more concerned with getting at least some aid to the people even while knowing most goes to the elite.
GI Korea has followed this story with a slightly different viewpoint from mine. He believes that no aid should be given without inspection. I agree that the more inspection the better, but I can understand how, if they were my relatives, I would give plenty with the hope of them getting a little.
Recently a Canadian-Korean pastor had been detained but was released. Korean citizens are not released and the GI, again, sees this as weakness on the South Korean Government's part. In this case, I think it was not the nationality of the pastor so much as the knowledge that Christian groups are responsible for a major part of the aid received. (I may have mixed up the links to the GI -sorry 'bout that)
From the Newsweek article:
South Korean churches are competing to provide humanitarian aid to their compatriots in the atheist north. It's harder to give help than it should be.
Pastor Douglas Shin has learned the cost of good intentions-especially in North Korea. Every time the Seoul-based Protestant missionary goes in with another shipment of food for the hungry, the regime's officials grab much if not all of it for themselves, he says. Once, when he tried to negotiate a visit to the capital, Pyongyang, they demanded that he bring a whole rail car loaded with 60 tons of flour and supplies. He finally bargained them down to a 10-ton food shipment, delivered just inside the border by truck from China. At least they let him hand out some of it to people on the streets.
That willingness to cut deals is making North Korea increasingly dependent on Christians from the peninsula's southern end. While nongovernmental agencies like World Vision and Save the Children, fed up with the North's rampant corruption and lack of transparency, have closed down or sharply reduced their activities there, South Koreans are racing into the void.
By that measure it's tough to beat the Rev. Yonggi Cho of Seoul's Full Gospel Church, the world's largest single house of worship, with 780,000 congregants. Early last month Cho and 250 fellow South Koreans attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the Full Gospel's $22 million cardiac center on the banks of Pyongyang's Daedong River. ...
North Korea's few churches-Potemkin temples to give the illusion of religious freedom, critics say-are getting costly makeovers courtesy of religious groups on the far side of the DMZ. Seoul's Presbyterians are spending nearly $3 million to rebuild Bongsu Church in Pyongyang, while Baptist groups are planning to invest a similar sum in nearby Chilgol Church, which was once attended by the mother of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung.
The southerners aren't competing for converts; proselytizing remains strictly forbidden in the atheist North. The real prizes (for now, at least) are trophy assets-the kind that look good on church Web sites and help fill the collection plates. (My bolding)
Anything is an improvement on North Korea's present health-care system. Even in privileged Pyongyang hospitals lack electricity and running water as well as basic equipment and supplies. And the facilities outside the capital are far worse. At the People's Hospital in Kusong, some 30 miles north of Pyongyang, patients are X-rayed by a 40-year-old Hungarian-built fluoroscopy machine that emits dangerous levels of radiation. Orderlies fashion bandages from cotton grown on the hospital grounds, and intravenous drugs are administered with upended soda bottles. Conditions at Kusong would be even more desperate without donor groups like the Maryland-based Eugene Bell Foundation, which insists on delivering aid directly its final destination. If North Korean officials refuse, the foundation warehouses its aid until permission is given.
Regular site visits by donor representatives are basic to responsible NGO work, not only in North Korea but everywhere else, says Eugene Bell director Stephen Linton. "People who think otherwise are kidding themselves."(my bolding)
Seems I'm putting up the whole article. Let's see. A South Korea Christian group spent a million dollars (US or Canadian - they're the same now -Ha, Ha) to build a church that when completed, didn't have a cross (I guess that's bad - it was significant enough for the journalist to mention). The South Korean Jogye Buddhists rebuilt a temple at the Gumgang tourist area but it was seized by the North Korean branch of the order.
The SK government has had no luck in the construction, or supplying of hospitals and recommends against it. They supply doctors at a few hospitals in North Korea to help the citizens and teach the North Korean doctors and find that is the hardest thing for the NK government to profit from.
They also point out that Cho's church-funded hospital will provide surgery costing about $3000 in a country with a $760 per capita income.
Well, the GI and I agree that No M-hyun's government didn't treat North Korea with sufficient firmness. Although I can sympathize with the motivations of the Christian groups making donations, I don't think they are helping the situation either.