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North Korea agrees to take South Korea aid

By K.J. Kwon, CNN
September 11, 2012 -- Updated 0040 GMT (0840 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • North Korea is suffering after a powerful tropical cyclone hit last month, killing dozens
  • The United Nations called for emergency aid
  • North Korea hasn't taken aid from the South in two years
  • North and South are legally at war and relations between the two are very tense

(CNN) -- North Korea, reeling from a powerful tropical cyclone, will accept aid from South Korean government for the first time in two years, South Korea said Monday.

The United Nations World Food Program called for emergency help for North Korea after cyclone Bolaven hit in August, killing at least 48 and leaving 21,000 homeless, according to North Korea's state news agency KCNA.

Some media reported that the death toll could be higher.

Typhoon tourism: One week in North Korea

The storm followed widespread flooding in late July from heavy rains, which caused the death of at least 169 people, according to KCNA.

Riding out typhoon in Okinawa

South Korea offered aid to North Korea through the Korean Red Cross last week.

"We got a reply back from North Korea this morning," requesting aid, said Park Soo-jin, deputy spokeswoman of South Korea's Unification Ministry.

The two countries are still legally at war and relations between them are tense at the best of times.

South Korea halted aid to the North after it shelled Yeongpyeong Island in November 2010, killing two South Korean marines and two civilians.

Pyongyang claimed it was retaliating for South Korean artillery landing in their waters during a military drill.

This is not the first aid proposal by the South.

Last year, Seoul offered Pyongyang aid in the form of instant noodles and biscuits, but the offer was rejected after the North called for rice and cement, according to Yonhap News Agency.

The aid deal will be discussed via document exchanges through the neutral village of Panmunjom.

North Korea agreed to accept food aid from a private agency, the Korea Peace Foundation, in January, South Korea's Unification Ministry said at the time.

TIME: North Korea threatens South over Christmas lights

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