The Korean Catholic Church has been helping North Korea for the last twenty years. An article in the Peace weekly gives a summary of the help.
Father Gerald Hammond, a Maryknoll priest, secretary of the Bishops Ad Hoc Committee for National Reconciliation, has been going to North Korea with the Eugene Bell Foundation to help those with drug resistant TB. He is the local superior of the Maryknollers, 83 years old, and makes this three week trip twice a year in the spring and fall. He has made over 50 trips to the North, four priests went on this recent trip.
The article mentions 50 of the ones who were receiving help, five were cured and returned to their families, two died, and one patient had adverse effects from the medicine and had to stop. The treatment lasts for 18 months and the cost is 5,000 dollars for each patient.
Help to the North has decreased because of the sinking of the Cheonan on the 26th of March in 2010. A South Korean investigation concluded that the ship was sunk by a North Korean torpedo. Consequently, shortly after, the Korean government enacted the measure that halted all trade to the North as a penalty.
The Church has been one of big supporters of the North, sending up food and other financial aid. In 1995 because of floods and hunger, 'One Heart and One Body Movement' of the Seoul Archdiocese began sending up financial aid, followed the year after with noodles, winter clothing, medical equipment, medicines, seeds etc..
The situation in North Korea is getting worse after each disaster. Because of drought they have had a 26 percent drop in the wheat and barley harvest, and a 24 percent drop in the potato harvest. The United Nations (FAO) has determined North Korea is one of the 34 countries without a sufficient supply of food, and is considering support for the North.
The article concludes with mention that the measure that stopped all government aid to the North has put a damper even in aid from non-governmental sources. It has affected the support given by the Church; after 20 years the writer admits there is fatigue that can't be overlooked. This will be a concern of the Church in the months ahead.