Memoirs of an Aid Worker in the DPRK

A series by Erich Weingartner, recounting his days as the founding Head of the Food Aid Liason Unit (FALU), an independent section of the United Nations World Food Program, from 1997-1999.

This makes excellent reading and provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse both at the careful way in which such sensitive appointments are made and insight into the cautious/careful/suspicious attitude of the DPRK towards NGO’s (not to mention the authoritarian/suspicious attitude of UN agencies!!) I look forward to the next instalment.

Glen Davis

About the author:

Erich Weingartner first became involved in Korea in 1978. At the time he was Executive Secretary of the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) with special responsibility for the World Council of Churches (WCC) human rights programme.

Erich in Wonsan

On his first trip to Pyongyang in 1985, Erich secured the permission of DPRK authorities for a face-to-face meeting between North and South delegations. In 1986 he arranged the first encounter since the Korean War between delegations of North and South Korean Christians in Glion, Switzerland. In the following five years, he organized three additional international meetings that included delegations from both Koreas.

In May 1997 Erich moved to Pyongyang, where he worked until July 1999 as founding Head of the Food Aid Liaison Unit (FALU), an independent section of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) that programmed and monitored humanitarian assistance donated by non-governmental organizations during what has been dubbed as “the great famine”. He was the first NGO representative (and first Canadian) to achieve resident status in North Korea. During his tenure, FALU assistance topped 100,000 metric tons of food, agricultural and medical inputs, at a value exceeding 30 million US dollars. His work took him by land cruiser to all provinces of the DPRK, where he visited ports, rail yards, warehouses, nurseries, kindergartens, boarding schools, orphanages, hospitals, factories, farms, and also many families in both rural and urban homes.

A graduate of McMaster University and Waterloo Lutheran Seminary (Canada), Erich previously worked as Research Assistant at the Lutheran World Federation in Geneva, and as Deputy General Secretary of the International Documentation Centre (IDOC) in Rome. As a specialist in human rights and humanitarian assistance, Erich’s work took him to every continent, including armed conflict zones in Lebanon, El Salvador, New Caledonia, the Philippines and Bosnia.

Memoirs of his years working in North Korea:

My Bumpy Road to Pyongyang

My Introduction to Nampo Port

My First Monitoring Trip

6 Responses to “Memoirs of an Aid Worker in the DPRK”

  1. North Korea’s Nightlife Scene: The Pyongyang Perspective - Unofficial Network Says:

    [...] as Erich Weingartner, who lived in Pyongyang from 1997 to 1999 while heading a unit of the World Food Programme, says, [...]

  2. Remembering North Korea’s ‘Random Access Club’ - Unofficial Network Says:

    [...] the experience of other expats that have lived in North Korea, Erich Weingartner says that when he arrived in Pyongyang in 1997 to head the Food Liaison Unit, a division of the UN [...]

  3. North Korea’s Nightlife Scene: The Pyongyang Perspective | NK News - North Korea News Says:

    […] as Erich Weingartner, who lived in Pyongyang from 1997 to 1999 while heading a unit of the World Food Programme, says, […]

  4. Remembering North Korea’s ‘Random Access Club’ | NK News - North Korea News Says:

    […] YORK CITY – Mirroring the experience of other expats that have lived in North Korea, Erich Weingartner says that when he arrived in Pyongyang in 1997 to head the Food Liaison Unit, a division of the UN […]

  5. North Korea’s Nightlife Scene: The Pyongyang Perspective | NK News – North Korea News Says:

    […] as Erich Weingartner, who lived in Pyongyang from 1997 to 1999 while heading a unit of the World Food Programme, says, […]

  6. Remembering North Korea’s ‘Random Access Club’ | NK News – North Korea News Says:

    […] YORK CITY – Mirroring the experience of other expats that have lived in North Korea, Erich Weingartner says that when he arrived in Pyongyang in 1997 to head the Food Liaison Unit, a division of the UN […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: