The UK has given £740,000 to North Korea – including £22,650 to help their journalists “connect to the web”.
The secretive communist state – accused of one of the world’s biggest ever cyber attacks in 2014 – also got over £350,000 in taxpayers’ money for teacher training and ‘promoting cultural links via teacher training’.
Aid given to journalists was part of a UK project designed to increase interaction between Kim Jong-un ’s state and international media organisations.
It is hoped that it will promote a more open culture of news reporting in the country where internet use is restricted for much of the population.
The grants were revealed in a series of figures released by the Department for International Development.
But the aid was distributed through other Government departments, most notably the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The figures reveal sizeable sums were handed out for ‘physio units for the rural disabled’ (£3,780), entrepreneur workshops (£10,000), and training Korean officials in “UK values” (£25,800).
That amounted to another £157,000 last year, while promoting cultural links to UK via teacher training cost another £200,000.
It was donated as part of a project to give North Korean teaching staff and students an increased understanding of the UK. Aid-related ‘front line diplomacy’ added up to £93,000.
DFID confirmed the total aid package from all government departments was £740,000. Most of the money came from the Foreign Office, and was paid out after the 2014 data hack on US entertainment giant Sony.
North Korea was accused of a cyber attack on the company over a film which depicted the assassination of Kim.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “The projects we carry out in North Korea are part of our policy of critical engagement, and are used to promote British values and demonstrate to the North Korean people that engaging with the UK and the outside world is an opportunity rather than a threat.
“We conduct a range of small-scale project work, many of which help to improve the lives of the most vulnerable members of society.”