The plight of the North Koreans, especially those not having enough to eat, is a problem we have had for many years. It is not getting any better and with the North's response to initiatives from the rest of the world being so negative, there has not been much sympathy for their unfortunate situation. The efforts of the North to bolster their nuclear capabilities and the sinking of the South Korean warship have made the problems more difficult to deal with.
The Catholic Church in Korea has tried over many years to work for reconciliation. The Bishop of Masan, the president of Caritas Korea, in an interview with Fides, said "Even if hope for reconciliation seems to be impossible to humanity, it is not impossible to God."
There are people in Korea who do not want to dialogue with the North, especially after the boat incident. The Catholic Church has made it clear that humanitarian aid for the sick and starving should not be politicized but must be carried out regardless of the circumstances.
In recent articles and in an editorial in a Catholic newspaper, this position of the Church has been emphasized. Caritas International, in its recent meeting to discuss programs in North Korea, said the current situation has made it more difficult to draw attention to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the North: "The North Korean Government's militant attitude provokes further hard line stances among political sectors in the South and other countries involved. A vicious circle of aggressive actions might lead to further unintentional damage in relations...."
It is very clear to many that without more help now for the North, despite all the problems--even forgetting the humanitarian and Christian response that we are called to give--there will come a time when the many problems of the North will be a massive burden for the united Korea of the future. If the efforts of the South to help the North are not greatly increased, the results of this lack of commitment will have to be confronted when the day of a united Korea finally dawns.