Cheong Wa Dae sent a gift of 200 tons of tangerines to North Korea, in return for the North's mushrooms in September following the summit between the two leaders in the North's capital city of Pyongyang, the presidential office said Sunday.
According to the text message sent by presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom to reporters, South Korean cargo planes carrying the fruit left the resort island of Jeju for Pyongyang earlier in the day. On board were Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung and Suh Ho, presidential secretary for unification policy, who will oversee and deliver the shipment.
"Tangerines were chosen because they are in season at the moment, and it is a kind of fruit that is rare in North Korea," Kim said, adding that the office hoped as many North Korean people as possible can taste them.
The tangerines, packed separately in 20,000 boxes, are being sent to the North in four shipments until Sunday. Four cargo planes will fly each shipment.
Boxes of tangerines are loaded onto a C-130 military cargo plane bound for Pyongyang at Jeju International Airport on Nov. 11, 2018. (Yonhap)Boxes of tangerines are loaded onto a C-130 military cargo plane bound for Pyongyang at Jeju International Airport on Nov. 11, 2018. (Yonhap)
It is the biggest shipment of South Korean goods since 2010 when inter-Korean relations frayed following the North's attack on a South Korean warship in March that year.
For 12 years from 1999 to the early 2010s, the island regularly sent tangerines to North Korea, but this was halted after the sinking of the Cheonan that left 46 sailors dead.
The government said the shipment was not in violation of various international sanctions on North Korea on the grounds that the fruit isn't subject to sanctions and that it was a reciprocal gift with no strings attached.
It is believed that there had been previous consultations between Seoul and Washington on the matter.(Yonhap News)