The move came as China warned the crisis on the Korean peninsula was escalating out of control and the war of words between Pyongyang and Washington continued.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in presides over the National Security Council at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea on September 15, 2017.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in presides over the National Security Council at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea on September 15, 2017. ( Reuters )

South Korea approved a plan on Thursday to send $8 million worth of aid to North Korea, as China warned the crisis on the Korean peninsula was getting more serious by the day and the war of words between Pyongyang and Washington continued.

North Korea's foreign minister likened US President Donald Trump to a "barking dog" on Thursday, after Trump warned he would "totally destroy" the North if it threatened the United States and its allies.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the situation on the Korean peninsula was getting more serious by the day and could not be allowed to spin out of control.

"We call on all parties to be calmer than calm and not let the situation escalate out of control," Wang said, according to a report from the state-run China News Service on Thursday.

Meeting separately with his South Korean counterpart, Kang Kyung-wha, Wang reiterated a call for South Korea to remove the US-built THAAD anti-missile system, which China says is a threat to its own security.

"China hopes South Korea will make efforts to reduce tension," a report on China's official Xinhua news agency quoted Wang as saying.

More than 200,000 children at risk

The decision to send aid to North Korea was not popular in South Korea, hitting President Moon Jae-in's approval rating. It also raised concerns in Japan and the United States, and followed new UN sanctions against North Korea over its sixth nuclear test earlier this month.

The South's Unification Ministry said its aid policy remained unaffected by geopolitical tensions with the North. The exact timing of when the aid would be sent, as well as its size, would be confirmed later, the ministry said in a statement.

UNICEF's regional director for East Asia and the Pacific Karin Hulshof said in a statement before the decision the problems North Korean children face "are all too real."

"Today, we estimate that around 200,000 children are affected by acute malnutrition, heightening their risk of death and increasing rates of stunting," Hulshof said.

"Food and essential medicines and equipment to treat young children are in short supply," she said.

The last time the South had sent aid to the North was in December 2015 through the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) under ex-president Park Geun-hye.

"Dog barking"

South Korea's efforts aimed at fresh aid for North Korea dragged down Moon's approval rating.

He will meet Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Trump later on Thursday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, where North Korea was expected to be the core agenda item.

In an address on Tuesday, Trump escalated his standoff with North Korea over its nuclear challenge, threatening to "totally destroy" the country of 26 million people if the North threatened the United States and its allies.

Trump also mocked its leader, Kim Jong-un, calling him a "rocket man."

North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho called Trump's comments "the sound of a dog barking."

"There is a saying that goes: 'Even when dogs bark, the parade goes on'," Ri said in televised remarks to reporters in front of a hotel near the UN headquarters in New York.

"If (Trump) was thinking about surprising us with dog-barking sounds then he is clearly dreaming," he said.

Asked by reporters what he thought of Trump calling North Korean leader Kim Jong-un "rocket man," Ri quipped: "I feel sorry for his aides."

North Korea conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test on September 3 and has launched numerous missiles this year, including two intercontinental ballistic missiles and two other rockets that flew over Japan.

Such provocations have sparked strong disapproval from the international community, especially from the United States and Japan. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies