The request came in response to an Aug. 31 offer by the South Korean Red Cross of $8.5 million in humanitarian aid, a spokesman for the Unification Ministry told South Korea's Yonhap news agency.
Chun Hae-sung said instead of emergency food, basic necessities and medical aid, the North's Red Cross said it wants rice, cement and excavators.
A political observer said if the request is accepted it would help lessen tension between the two countries over the sinking of a South Korean warship.
"It will help set the mood for talks between the two sides," said Yang Moo-jin, a professor of North Korean studies in Seoul.
Tuesday, North Korea carried out an earlier promise to release the seven crew members of a South Korean fishing boat it seized nearly a month ago for trespassing in its waters.