Chronologies

North Korea - South Korea

Chronology from Jan 2016 to May 2016


: Foal Eagle ends. Pyongyang’s rhetoric starts to wind down, slightly.

: North Korea’s Ministry of Land and Environmental Protection denounces a Southern defector group for sending balloons across the DMZ carrying anti-DPRK leaflets.

: South Korea holds parliamentary elections for the 20th National Assembly, whose four-year term commences on May 30. President Park’s ruling conservative Saenuri Party unexpectedly loses its majority, while both parties in the split liberal opposition do well.

: China’s Foreign Ministry says the Ningbo 13 all carried valid passports and left the PRC legally. Most defectors enter China illegally, and if caught are repatriated. The legalities aside, Beijing is seen as sending a signal to Pyongyang.

: North Korea claims the Ningbo group are victims of a “hideous” abduction plot by the ROK. It continues to repeat this claim and demand their return.

: In the largest group defection in years, MOU reveals the arrival in Seoul a day earlier of 13 North Koreans: apparently most of the staff (12 waitresses and a male manager) from an overseas DPRK restaurant, soon revealed to be the Ryugyong in Ningbo, China.

: South Korea reports that Global Positional System (GPS) signals north and west of Seoul are being jammed from five locations in North Korea. Pyongyang denies any responsibility. This continues for a week, affecting the signal reception of over 1,000 aircraft and 700 ships. No accidents are reported, but many fishing vessels have to return to port.

: NKNews reports that a former Kaesong investor attempted suicide with an overdose of sleeping pills. He was found by his daughter, hospitalized and later discharged.

: In just one of many such threats, DPRK media report a statement by the long-range artillery forces of the frontline large combined units of the Korean People’s Army (KPA). Criticizing a South Korean precision strike drill, this threatens that “If Park does not make an official apology, North Korea will take military actions to blow up Cheongwadae.”

: MOU rejects any special law compensation for KIC investors, saying this might cause “unnecessary disputes.” One KIC company owner, Choi Jae-ho, angrily retorts: “Do we really have to burn ourselves to death with gasoline to make changes?”

: Some 1,100 former KIC investors and sub-contractors rally at the Imjingak Mangbaedan Altar in Paju near the DMZ, demanding a special law to compensate them.

: Relatives of the Ningbo 13 demand their return on CNN. One woman says: “Even now my sister is suffering in the accursed South Korea, starving and unconscious…. Those South Korean puppet criminals, I want to tear them to pieces!” Seoul has rebuffed Pyongyang’s charges that some of the group are on hunger strike or in solitary confinement.

: AP reports that ongoing US-ROK military exercises include rehearsing scenarios for “decapitation strikes” to take out the top DPRK leadership in the event of war. Pyongyang’s response to such menacing lèse-majesté is predictably apoplectic.

: South Korea imposes its own unilateral sanctions against North Korea. It also suspends a logistics project to import Russian coal via the DPRK’s Rajin port. Seoul further instructs South Koreans not to patronize DPRK-owned restaurants in third countries.

: The ROK and US begin formal talks on THAAD deployment.

: South Korea’s NIS claims Pyongyang recently hacked into the smartphones of some 50 senior defense-related ROK officials, using text messages to try to lure them into following links to malicious software.

: The ROK-US Combined Forces Command (CFC) announces the start of the usual pair of annual joint military exercises next day. Key Resolve finishes on March 18, while the much larger Foal Eagle continues through April 30.

: ROK Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se exults at the new UNSC sanctions on the DPRK; calling them “full-scale,” “super-strong,” and set to “bring about ‘bone-numbing’ outcomes that the North Korean government couldn’t ever imagine in the past.”

: Pyongyang papers publish, then widely comment on, an article about Park Geun-hye headlined “Ugly Female Bat-Disgrace of Worst Traitor” (sic). This also calls the ROK President “a tailless bitch.” Much similar venom fills DPRK media for several weeks.

: UN Security Council (UNSC) passes a unanimous resolution condemning the DPRK’s January nuclear test and its February missile test. Resolution 2270 includes sanctions much stronger than any previously levied on the DPRK.

: The ROK National Assembly passes two bills, both originally tabled years before, after an 8-day filibuster (a world record) by the liberal Minjoo opposition party, which however fails to stop the ruling conservative Saenuri Party passing an anti-terrorism bill. But the opposition accepts a law on human rights in North Korea, which passes by 212-0.

:   Voice of America highlights the plight of companies that had invested in the KIC, under the headline “Sanctions on North Korea Hurting Businesses in South Korea.”

: President Park warns a meeting of mayors and provincial governors at the Blue House of the threat from North Korea: “New types of threats such as terror (attacks), cyberattacks or biological weapons could occur anywhere.”

: South Koreans continue to debate the Kaesong closure, with critics querying the ROK government’s case and numbers; for example in the left-leaning Hankyoreh daily.

: The NIS warns that the DPRK may target ROK officials for assassination. A prominent North Korean defector in the South has his security detail quadrupled.

: MOU announces the suspension of almost all ROK financial aid to the DPRK.

: Voice of America headlines that the upcoming joint US-ROK military drills Key Resolve and Foal Eagle will be the largest ever held.

: Briefed by the National Intelligence Service (NIS), Lee Chul-woo, a lawmaker of the ruling Saenuri Party, claims Kim Jong Un is preparing terror attacks on the South: “The North can inflict damage on …activists, defectors and government officials  … It could target public facilities and key infrastructure, including subways, shopping malls and power stations.”

: Four F-22 Raptors, the world’s most advanced fighter, arrive at Osan Air Base from Kadena in Japan. One headline reads: “US F-22 Raptors deployed to rattle Pyongyang”.

: Finally addressing the National Assembly (on Kim Jong Il’s birthday), President Park attacks “the runaway Kim Jong Un regime” for its “countless provocations …We can no longer afford to be pushed around by North Korea’s deceit and intimidation.”

: Despite government pledges to ease the losses of ROK investors at Kaesong, press headlines claim its closure means “financial loss and ruin” for the companies concerned.

: Press reports claim that pressure from abroad (specifically, the US and China) prompted Seoul to shut down the Kaesong zone. MOU reportedly pleaded for less drastic measures than total closure, but was overruled by the Blue House.

: In an editorial headlined “A mute President,” the Korea JoongAng Daily, a leading center-right Seoul daily, calls on Park Geun-hye to explain the closure of the KIC: “The commander-in-chief must speak up in times of crisis.”

: Pyongyang orders all South Koreans out of the KIC by 5pm, saying it will “completely freeze all [their] assets including equipment, materials and products.” It also designates the area as a military zone, and says it will sever all inter-Korean hotlines.

: In retaliation for the DPRK’s nuclear test and satellite launch/missile test, the ROK government orders the “complete shutdown” of the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC).

: In the wake of the DPRK rocket launch, Seoul and Washington say they will start talks on deploying the US Terminal High Altitude Aerial Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in South Korea. The ROK had long hesitated, due to strong Chinese opposition.

: Pyongyang announces the successful launch and placing in orbit of a satellite. South Korea, the US, the UN and others condemn this as a violation of UNSC prohibitions on the DPRK engaging in ballistic missile-related activities.

: Seoul press reports quote ROK police and military sources as claiming that the cargo of some recent North Korean propaganda balloons found in the South includes “lots of filth difficult to describe in words,” such as cigarette butts, daily waste and used toilet paper.

: MOU says it suspects North Korea is behind recent cyber-attacks on Southern targets. No details are given.

: Commenting on recent South Korean diplomacy, notably the accord with Japan on comfort women and popular opposition thereto, DPRK media opine that “the current crisis in South Korea is an inevitable product of sycophantic and treacherous politics.”

: A bundle of North Korean leaflets, which fail to separate, crashes onto a car parked in Ilsan near the DMZ, seriously denting its roof.

: North Korea sends leaflets by balloon across the DMZ. As reproduced by the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) – arguably in breach of the National Security Law – these call on South Koreans to “knock out the Park Geun-hye gang” and end psy-war broadcasts.

: ROK JCS says a small DPRK drone briefly crossed the Military Demarcation Line (MDL), retreating when the ROK military fired some 20 warning shots.

: MOU says that from Jan. 12 it will restrict South Koreans’ staying in the KIC to those directly running businesses there. Contractors must go in and out the same day.

: MOU says that from Jan. 12 it will restrict South Koreans’ staying in the KIC to those directly running businesses there. Contractors must go in and out the same day.

: Yonhap reports ROK Defense Minister Han Min-koo as telling Army Missile Command commanders during a field inspection the previous day that “If the enemy provokes, retaliate speedily and accurately without hesitation.”

: KCNA reports Kim Jong Un as visiting the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces (MPAF). Offering New Year congratulations on the “H-bomb” test, Kim also “informed them of the complicated situation which the Korean revolution is now facing.”

: A US B-52 Stratofortress strategic bomber flies low over Osan Air Force Base south of Seoul, accompanied by ROK F-15 and US F-16 fighters, in a show of force also described as a training mission. The B-52 later returns to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.

: Yonhap reports ROK Defense Minister Han Min-koo as telling Army Missile Command commanders during a field inspection the previous day that “If the enemy provokes, retaliate speedily and accurately without hesitation.”

: KCNA reports Kim Jong Un as visiting the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces (MPAF). Offering New Year congratulations on the “H-bomb” test, Kim also “informed them of the complicated situation which the Korean revolution is now facing.”

: A US B-52 Stratofortress strategic bomber flies low over Osan Air Force Base south of Seoul, accompanied by ROK F-15 and US F-16 fighters, in a show of force also described as a training mission. The B-52 later returns to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.

: South Korea marks Kim Jong Un’s 33rd birthday by switching on its propaganda loudspeakers along the DMZ. The ROK’s liberal main opposition Minjoo party warns that this may raise tensions and stoke uncertainty. North Korea denounces the move as a provocation and activates its own south-facing speakers, which are less powerful.

: The North’s Korean Central Broadcasting Station (KCBS) TV airs images of Kim Jong Un giving field guidance during an ejection test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) supposedly conducted on Dec. 21 in the East Sea.

: South Korea marks Kim Jong Un’s 33rd birthday by switching on its propaganda loudspeakers along the DMZ. The ROK’s liberal main opposition Minjoo party warns that this may raise tensions and stoke uncertainty. North Korea denounces the move as a provocation and activates its own south-facing speakers, which are less powerful.

: The North’s Korean Central Broadcasting Station (KCBS) TV airs images of Kim Jong Un giving field guidance during an ejection test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) supposedly conducted on Dec. 21 in the East Sea.

: MOU says it will restrict ROK entry into the KIC to business persons directly invested there. It is unclear how far this is actually implemented, at first.

: Calling the North’s nuclear test a “grave violation” of the Aug. 25 inter-Korean agreement, Cho Tae-yong, deputy chief of national security in the ROK presidential office, says the South will resume propaganda broadcasts across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

: Won Yoo-chul, floor leader of the ROK’s ruling conservative Saenuri Party, says South Korea should consider creating its own nuclear potential for self-defense.

: MOU says it will restrict ROK entry into the KIC to business persons directly invested there. It is unclear how far this is actually implemented, at first.

: Calling the North’s nuclear test a “grave violation” of the Aug. 25 inter-Korean agreement, Cho Tae-yong, deputy chief of national security in the ROK presidential office, says the South will resume propaganda broadcasts across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

: Won Yoo-chul, floor leader of the ROK’s ruling conservative Saenuri Party, says South Korea should consider creating its own nuclear potential for self-defense.

: Denouncing the North’s nuclear test, South Korea vows close cooperation with allies and the global community to punish this.

: Denouncing the North’s nuclear test, South Korea vows close cooperation with allies and the global community to punish this.

: JoongAng Ilbo reports a Red Cross survey on the 412 Southern separated family members who participated in October’s reunions. 167 (40 percent) said the event left them unhappy, while 100 reported emotional distress such as depression and insomnia.

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