South Korea OKs civilian contact with North Korea in goodwill gesture

South Korean presidential candidate Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party and his wife Kim Jung-suk wave after voting for a presidential election at a junior high school in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 9, 2017. South Koreans voted Tuesday for a new president, with victory widely predicted for a liberal candidate who has pledged to improve ties with North Korea, re-examine a contentious U.S. missile defense shield and push sweeping economic changes. (Park Young-tae/Newsis via AP)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korea has approved a civic group to contact North Korea over aid programs, the first such approval since North Korea’s nuclear test in January 2016.

Friday’s announcement is a sign that the government led by new President Moon Jae-in is trying to find ways to improve strained ties with North Korea.

The Unification Ministry says the Seoul-based Korean Sharing Movement would be allowed to communicate with North Korea to discuss how to deal with malaria in North Korea.

The civic group says it will contact North Korea via fax or email to provide North Korea with mosquito nets and repellent.

Moon’s government supports expanding inter-Korean civilian exchanges. Analysts say Moon won’t likely push for any major rapprochement projects because North Korea has gone too far on its nuclear program.