Chronologies

North Korea - South Korea

Chronology from Jan 2013 to May 2013


: 43 Southern managers return from the KIC in the early hours. Seven remain, to sort out unpaid wages and taxes. Seoul denies that this is in any way a hostage situation.

: Unification Minister Ryoo says: “Our offer for dialogue still stands … but  North Korea must abandon its trite behavior. If they act like this, who will invest in the North?”

: Citing sources in Pyongyang, the Seoul-based DailyNK claims that before his death Kim Jong Il worried that the KIC would stir pro-South feelings and told his son and heir Kim Jong Un: “You must move decisively to close it as soon as you see a chance.”

: After the DPRK rejects a final deadline to commence negotiations, the ROK government tells its citizens still in the KIC to return home.

: The DPRK marks Army Day with a parade, not in downtown Pyongyang but at the Kumsusan Palace mausoleum east of the capital. Air Force Commander Ri Pyong Chol thunders that “Stalwart pilots, once given a sortie order, will load nuclear bombs, instead of fuel for return, and storm enemy strongholds to blow them up.” Strategic Rocket Force Commander Kim Rak Gyom adds that “the DPRK’s inter-continental ballistic missiles have already set the dens of the brigandish U.S. imperialists as their first target and officers and men of the Strategic Rocket Force are one click away from pushing the launch button.”

: None of the KIC’s 53,000 North Korean employees turn up for work.

: The North’s Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee (KAPPC) warns that “the situation on the Korean Peninsula is inching close to a thermonuclear war.” Since “it does not want to see foreigners in south Korea fall victim,” it “informs all foreign institutions and enterprises and foreigners including tourists in Seoul and all other parts of south Korea that they are requested to take measures for shelter and evacuation in advance for their safety.”

: Asked in the National Assembly about a potential fresh nuclear test by North Korea, Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae says there “is such a sign” of activity at the Punggye-ri site, but that he will not comment further on matters related to intelligence.

: After visiting the KIC, WPK CC Secretary Kim Yang Gon announces that “The DPRK will withdraw all its employees” and “temporarily suspend the operations in the zone and examine the issue of whether it will allow its existence or close it as the south Korean authorities and military warmongers seek to turn it into a hotbed of confrontation.”

: Several foreign embassies in Pyongyang, including those of Russia and the UK, report that DPRK authorities have contacted them to offer assistance in case they wish to leave. None do so. The British embassy rebukes North Korea for stirring up tensions.

: Dismissing Southern protests as “a provocative racket,” the CPRK warns that “The shutdown of the [Kaesong] Zone has become imminent. If the south Korean puppet[s] … keep vociferating … we will take a resolute measure of withdrawing all our personnel.”

: Without warning, North Korea starts refusing to allow Southern vehicles or personnel across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to enter the KIC. Those in the zone are free to leave, but most choose not to do so for fear of not being allowed back in again.

: DPRK says it is restarting its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon.

: The Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), the North’s rubber-stamp parliament, holds its regular one-day spring session. As usual this passes a budget with no numbers. Pak Pong Ju is reappointed premier. A law is passed declaring the DPRK a nuclear weapons state.

: The Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK CC) convenes in Pyongyang. It proclaims a new line of developing the economy and nuclear weapons in parallel (byungjin). Former Premier Pak Pong Ju is promoted to the Politburo.

: KCNA carries a “special statement” of “the government, political parties and organizations of the DPRK” under the headline: “North-South Relations Have Been Put at State of War.” This warns that “the time when words could work has passed,” and hence “the Supreme Command of the KPA was just when it made the judgment and decision to decisively settle accounts with the US imperialists and south Korean puppets by dint of the arms of Songun [military-first policy] … Time has come to stage a do-or-die final battle.”

: The North’s General Bureau for Central Guidance to the Development of the Special Zone (GBCGDSZ) releases a statement which KCNA headlines: “DPRK Warns Future of Kaesong Industrial Zone Depends on S. Korea’s Attitude.” Saying “it is an extremely unusual thing that the Kaesong Industrial Zone is still in existence under the grave situation,” this warns: “The south Korean puppet forces are left with no face to make complaint even though we ban the south side’s personnel’s entry into the zone and close it.”

: North Korea severs its military hotline with South Korea, normally used to handle border crossings between the South and the KIC. However such crossings continue, with North and South working out the details within the zone itself.

: Kim Byung-kwan, President Park’s nominee as defense minister, withdraws amid continuing criticism on various ethical grounds. To avoid any hiatus at a time of high tension, Park announces that she will instead retain the incumbent Kim Kwan-jin.

: Yonhap quotes prosecutors as saying that a North Korean woman recently arrested after entering the South as a defector last August claimed she had been an “ordinary housewife” in the North, whose regime had coerced her into spying (initially on South Koreans in China) by threats to harm her family.

: Yonhap quotes an unnamed defense ministry (MND) source as dismissing recent DPRK threats: “Barking dogs don’t bite.” The same source also claims that the North’s Korean People’s Army (KPA) is experiencing growing rates of desertion.

: Joint US-ROK military exercise Key Resolve is held.

: ROK Red Cross confirms the North has cut the mutual hotline at Panmunjom.

: The North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) declares that “the DPRK abrogates all agreements on nonaggression reached between the north and the south.” Furthermore, it “totally nullifies the [1992] joint declaration on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”. Third, “the DPRK will close the Panmunjom [Red Cross] liaison channel between the north and the south.” The statement ends: “We will never miss the golden chance to wage a great war for national reunification.”

: The UNSC unanimously passes Resolution 2094, condemning the DPRK’s Feb. 12 nuclear test and further tightening sanctions to include more monitoring of cargoes, diplomats and banks – especially bulk cash transfers. Banned luxury items are itemized for the first time.  North Korea once again angrily dismisses this censure.

: The annual joint US-ROK Foal Eagle exercises, “one of the largest and longest war games in the world,” get under way. They end on April 30.

: Park Geun-hye is inaugurated as president of the ROK, the first ever woman to hold that post. Her inauguration speech expresses the hope that “North Korea will abide by international norms and make the right choice so that the trust-building process … can move forward” towards “an era of harmonious unification.”

: At the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, DPRK diplomat Jon Yong Ryong warns: “As the saying goes, a new-born puppy knows no fear of a tiger. South Korea’s erratic behavior would only herald its final destruction.” Jon is roundly criticized by other delegates for “completely inappropriate language” and threatened with expulsion.

: A further and final batch of Cabinet nominations by President-elect Park includes Ryoo Kihl-jae as unification minister. An academic specialist on North Korea, Ryoo is the architect of Park Heun-hye’s “trustpolitik” philosophy.

: President-elect Park names her foreign policy adviser Yun Byung-se as foreign minister, and retired Army Gen. Kim Byung-kwan as defence minister. The latter is immediately criticized for a variety of alleged ethical and judgmental lapses.

: North Korea conducts its third nuclear test, at the usual site of Punggye-ri near the east coast. Its claim that this involved a miniaturized device cannot be confirmed; nor is it known whether this used plutonium or enriched uranium.

: (South) Korea Customs Service (KCS) data show that despite tensions inter-Korean trade in 2012 reached a record high of $1.97 billion. Southern exports rose 13.4 per cent year on year to $896.26 million, topped by Northern exports up 19.3 percent at $1.07 billion. 99 percent of this involved the joint venture KIC.

: ROK president-elect Park Geun-hye names former Defense Minister Kim Jang-soo, to head a new national security office within the Blue House (presidential office).

: The DPRK’s National Economic Cooperation Committee (NECC) warns the South that if it imposes “reckless” sanctions on the KIC, it will “have to pay dearly.”

: MOU reports to the ROK National Assembly (NA) that in view of sanctions under UNSCR 2087 there will be enhanced inspection of goods entering the KIC.

: Apropos UNSCR 2087, the NDC – the DPRK’s top executive body – criticizes “big countries, which [should] take the lead in building a fair world order” for “abandoning without hesitation even elementary principle.”

: At a press conference in Pyongyang, former defectors Kwang Ho and his wife Ko Kyong Hui denounce the South for deceiving them and tearfully thank Kim Jong Un for forgiving them. Theirs is the third such re-defection in recent months.

: UN Security Council (UNSC) unanimously passes Resolution 2087, condemning and sanctioning North Korea’s Dec. 12 rocket launch. As usual, Pyongyang at once rejects this as a US conspiracy and “a fraudulent document devoid of any legality.”

: MOU refuses requests by Incheon city and Gangwon province to contact the North about possible inter-Korean games at a youth soccer tournament in Hainan, China on Jan. 24-27. Both Koreas are already sending teams.

: ROK intelligence confirms Seoul press reports that a Northern defector aged 33 named Yu was arrested on Jan. 11. Working for Seoul Metropolitan Government, Yu is suspected of passing on to Pyongyang details of over 10,000 defectors in South Korea.

: ROK National Police Agency (NPA) says North Korea was behind last June’s cyber-attack which temporarily crippled the center-right Seoul daily JoongAng Ilbo’s website and server. This is the fifth separate such attack on ROK entities since 2009.

: The JoongAng Ilbo reports that the National Intelligence Service (NIS) has reorganized its tracking of North Korea, with separate departments for analysis and “early warning management” and increased use of “humint.” Under Lee Myung-bak the agency arrested 23 Northern infiltrators and caught 132 spies disguised as defectors, while 169 South Koreans were charged with praising or propagandizing the North. This compares to 43 arrests in total under Lee’s liberal predecessor Roh Moo-hyun, president during 2003-08.

: Survey by the ROK National Veterans Association reports that 78.7 percent of South Koreans surveyed reckon that a second Korean war is possible. Almost half (45.7 percent) believe that the nation’s division will last for at least 20 more years.

: MOU data show that in 2012 no North Koreans visited the South: the first zero score since 1998. Peaking at 1,313 in 2005, numbers fell from 332 in 2008 to 14 in 2011. Last year 110,116 South Koreans went north, almost all (99.8 percent) of them to the (KIC).

: MOU data show that in 2012 no North Koreans visited the South; the first zero score since 1998. Peaking at 1,313 in 2005, under Lee Myung-bak numbers fell from 332 in 2008 to 14 in 2011. Last year, 110,116 South Koreans went to the North, almost all (99.8 percent) of them to the KIC.

: MOU sources tell Yonhap that the ROK’s 2013 budget, finally passed by the National Assembly on Jan. 1, allocates 1.09 trillion won ($1.02 billion) to the fund for inter-Korean cooperation. This is 9.1 percent more than in 2012, anticipating some easing of tensions. This breaks down as 735.7 billion won for humanitarian assistance (up 13 percent, and including allocations to send 400,000 tons of rice and 300,000 tons of fertilizer); 265 billion won for economic cooperation; and 90.2 billion won for the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC).

: MOU sources tell Yonhap that South Korea’s 2013 budget, finally passed by the National Assembly in the small hours of Jan. 1, allocates 1.09 trillion won ($1.02 billion) to the ROK’s fund for inter-Korean cooperation: 9.1 percent more than in 2012, anticipating some easing of tensions. This breaks down as 735.7 billion won for humanitarian assistance (up 13 percent, and including allocations to send 400,000 tons of rice and 300,000 tons of fertilizer); 265 billion won for economic cooperation; and 90.2 billion won for the Kaesong Industrial Complex. MOU’s own budget gets a 4.4 percent hike, to 222.2 billion won. Under other budget heads Seoul will also spend 134.2 billion won helping Northern defectors settle in the South Korea, and give 27 billion won to international agencies which assist the DPRK.

: The North’s National Defense Commission (NDC) says that the next South Korean government “must choose between confrontation and peace.”

: ROK Ministry of Unification (MOU) reports that Northern defector arrivals fell to 1,508 in 2012, down from 2,706 in 2011 and the first annual total under 2,000 since 2006. The decline is attributed to tighter border control after Kim Jong Il’s death. The cumulative total of Northern escapees residing in South Korea at end-2012 was 24,613.

: The North’s National Defense Commission (NDC) says that the next South Korean government “must choose between confrontation and peace.”

: MOU reports that Northern defector arrivals fell to 1,508 in 2012, down from 2,706 in 2011 and the first annual total under 2,000 since 2006. The decline is attributed to tighter border control after Kim Jong Il’s death; by December the flow was rising again. The cumulative total of Northern escapees residing in South Korea at end-2012 was 24,613.

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