The Humanitarian's Dilemma: The experience of international NGOs in North Korea

University of Sydney
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
The Proceedings of the Sixth Biennial Korean Studies Association of Australasia (KSAA) Conference, 2009, pp. 201 - 216
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
Files in This Item:
Filename Description Size
Thumbnail2009000090OK.pdf3.45 MB
Adobe PDF
Until the drastic reduction in the flow ofinternational aid precipitated by US sanctions in 2005, International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) conducted significant operations in the Democratic People's Republic ofKorea (DPRK). The DPRK solicited assistance from the international community in 1995, after a major flood and subsequent chronic food shortage. Over subsequent years the country became increasingly dependant on international assistance. Given this dependence on foreign aid by one of the world's most isolated, repressive andpotentially dangerous regimes and the recent withdrawal of' many aid agencies, it is timely to examine the impact of NGO operations, not only in humanitarian terms but with regards to economic, political and social development. After discussion of the various theories relating to the role ofINGOs in economic, social and political development, including their potential to promote democratisation, the pdper examines the impact of the activities of international aid organisations participating directly or indirectly in the provision ofhumanitarian aid, assistance or development in the DPRK. Based on the findings of10 semi-structured telephone interviews with relevant INGO personnel, INGO documents and other economic and social data, the paper examines the impact of INGOs on three key areas: Humanitarian objectives, economic development andpolitical/ social development.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: