Chronologies

North Korea - South Korea

Chronology from Oct 2003 to Dec 2003


: The two Koreas agree to set up four guard posts within the DMZ, 250 meters from the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) on either side within each of the two new cross-border road and rail corridors, to be responsible for the safe passage of construction traffic.

: MOU says it expects inter-Korean trade to top $700 million this year for the first time, with South Korea likely to replace China as the North’s main export market.

: DPRK publishes detailed entry and customs regulations for the Kaesong Industrial Park, as adopted by the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) Dec. 11.

: Inter-Korean working-level economic talks in Pyongyang fail to agree on procedures for jurisdiction over South Koreans who visit or work in projects in the North, such as Mt. Kumgang and Kaesong.

: Shipment of 4,800 tons of rice completes this year’s Southern rice aid to the North, totaling 400,000 tons. ROK officials have made 12 site visits to monitor distribution.

: A Seoul court sentences Park Jie-won, presidential chief of staff under Kim Dae-jung, to 12 years in jail and a Won 14.7 billion fine for organizing illegal money transfers to Pyongyang before the June 2000 summit, and taking a 15 billion won bribe from Hyundai.

: MOU says Southern aid to the North during Jan.-Nov. 2003 totaled $125 million, including food aid, fertilizer, medical equipment, and more.

: ROK Commerce, Industry, and Energy ministry (MOCIE) says it will ban high-tech manufacturing facilities from being transferred to the Kaesong Industrial Zone, to prevent potential dual use.

: MOU reports that South Korea is expected to overtake China and Japan as the largest importer of North Korean goods. In the first 10 months of 2003, ROK imports from the DPRK were worth $233 million, up 30 percent from 2002.

:  South Korean NGO claims that China is forcibly repatriating around 100 DPRK refugees every week.

: The two Koreas open a second military hotline, along the eastern railway line.

: Korea Development Institute reports less than 40 percent of Southern businesses trading with the North turn a profit. Nonetheless, businessmen and experts overwhelmingly predict trade will grow in 2004.

: Song Du-yul pleads not guilty in Seoul to most of the charges against him, including membership (under an alias) of the DPRK’s ruling KWP Politburo.

: Working-level talks on relinking railways are held in Sokcho, near the DMZ in eastern South Korea. Signals, communications, and electric power systems are discussed. It is agreed to begin the final phase of construction in April 2004. Two DPRK delegates return home overland.

: Tenth military working-level talks at Panmunjom fail to agree on details of guard posts in the DMZ for cross-border railway and road corridors.

: “Pororo the Little Penguin,” a cartoon series jointly produced by South Korea’s Hanaro Telecom and the North’s Samcholli General Corp., debuts on ROK TV.

: Hyundai says that from next year it will employ DPRK citizens at a hotel in Mt. Kumgang. The agreed monthly minimum wage will be $57.50, the same as planned at Kaesong. Hitherto Hyundai has hired Korean-Chinese.

: ROK charges a Northern defector, Nam Soo, who returned to the North and later re-entered South Korea, with violating the National Security Law. Nam is accused of providing DPRK intelligence with tips on South Korean spy agencies.

: South Korea announces delivery of 350 tons of TNT to the North, for blasting bedrock as part of the work to build the two cross-border roads and railways.

: ROK Navy vessel fires warning shots at a DPRK patrol boat which crossed the NLL, Pyongyang calls this a serious armed provocation.

: KEDO formally announces its decision to suspend LWR construction for one year from Dec. 1, saying conditions to continue the project are not being met by the DPRK.

: Former South Korean POW, who escaped from the DPRK with his wife, is arrested in China for using false passports. ROK embassy belatedly takes up case.

: The two Koreas hold ninth working-level military talks at Panmunjom, to discuss establishing guard posts in the DMZ at the sites of the two cross-border railways.

: DPRK accuses the ROK of breaching the June 2000 inter-Korean declaration by deploying new U.S.-made missiles.

: MOU says inter-Korean trade in the first 10 months of 2003 reached $587 million, 33 percent more than in the same period of 2002. ROK imports totaled $233 million, mostly agro-fisheries and textiles. “Exports” of $353 million were mostly aid.

: Chang Sun-Sup, ROK representative to KEDO, says that the LWR project can be resumed if the nuclear crisis is resolved. A day later Ambassador Thomas Hubbard insists the U.S. has no plan to revive the project under any circumstances.

: ROK is to deploy U.S.-made missiles with a range of 300 km, putting most of the DPRK within reach. ROK missiles were previously restricted to a range of 180 km.

: Seventh meeting of the Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Promotion Committee is held in Pyongyang. A 7-point agreement is reached, covering railways, the Kaesong Industrial Zone, payment systems, shipping, and flood control. An office will be opened early next year to handle practical problems arising at Kaesong and elsewhere.

: Red Cross officials from both Koreas, meeting at Mt. Kumgang, finally agree to build a family reunion center there. Construction will start in April for completion in 2005. South Korea is footing the bill.

: ROK Unification Minister Jeong admits lying to National Assembly when he denied knowledge of any payment to the North to participate in the Cheju festival.

: ROK embassy in Beijing again suspends consular services because of an influx of North Korean refugees.

: ROK navy fires warning shots at a DPRK patrol boat that briefly crosses the Northern Limit Line (NLL), which the North does not recognize, off the west coast.

:  ROK Defense Ministry reveals that since 1993, 10 military facilities near the DMZ have been designated as temporary shelters for a possible mass influx of refugees.

: MOU says 25 Southern firms have invested a total of $1.15 billion in the DPRK since 1996, 83 percent of this relates to KEDO’s LWR project.

: In the first private sector trans-DMZ trucking trip, the ROK’s largest logistics operator, Korea Express (KorEx), conveys 100,000 roof tiles to Kaesong.

: ROK’s Pyonghwa Air Travel Agency says the DPRK has suspended its tours of the North, which started Sept. 15, due to “tourist safety problems during the winter and the fatigue of local tour guides.” The tours are due to resume next April.

: ROK Defense Ministry says 496 former South Korean soldiers are still held in the DPRK, over half a century after being captured during the Korean War.

: Seoul reports 1,281 inter-Korean shipping operations during Jan.-Sept. 2003, 18 percent more than last year; carrying 699,560 tons of freight, a rise of 45 percent over 2002.

: Hwang Jang-yop, former KWP secretary who defected in 1997, is at last allowed to accept an invitation to speak in the U.S., Hwang leaves for Washington Oct. 27.

: A 190-strong Northern team – half the agreed size, minus cheerleaders and brass band – arrives, late, by two direct flights from Pyongyang for the Korea Peace Festival on Cheju island.

: Song Doo-yul is arrested and charged with violating ROK National Security Law.

: Officials in Seoul say they believe North Korea has reprocessed about 2,500 of the 8,000 spent fuel rods from its Yongbyon nuclear site.

: At the APEC summit, ROK President Roh Moo-hyun tells Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao that South Korea will help the North maintain its regime and proceed with reforms and opening – if Pyongyang abandons its nuclear weapon programs.

: Two ROK bodies, the Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business and the Korea Technology Credit Guarantee Fund, agree on arrangements to help small South Korean firms do business in the DPRK.

: KCCI says it will be difficult to develop the Kaesong Industrial Zone (KIZ) as an export base for ROK firms, since products made in the DPRK are subject to heavy tariffs in many markets.

: The 12th inter-Korean ministerial talks are held in Pyongyang. The South’s delegation, led by Unification Minister Jeong, flies directly from Seoul. The nuclear issue proves divisive, and the final joint statement agrees only on the date of the next meeting.

: A day before inter-Korean talks start, the South announces a gift of 100,000 tons of fertilizer to the North, worth $26.6 million.

: A third round of working-level economic and maritime cooperation talks is held in the ROK border city of Munsan; DPRK delegates cross the DMZ by bus. They agree to establish a joint commercial arbitration committee to handle business disputes; its decisions cannot be challenged by courts in either state.

: ROK decides to loan the DPRK materials and equipment worth up to $60 million to expedite reconnecting two cross-border railways and road corridors.

: In its first comment, Pyongyang denies any links with Prof. Song Doo-yul.

: ROK lawmaker says DPRK defectors plan to set up a government in exile.

: A Southern opposition lawmaker claims the North is being paid $1 million to take part in a sports festival on the island province of Cheju.

: In the largest movement across the DMZ since the Korean War, 1,100 South Koreans in 28 buses drive from Seoul to Pyongyang for the opening of a $56 million dollar gymnasium, built by Hyundai.

: The ROK embassy in Beijing suspends consular activities, as it is full of North Korean refugees. China says it will expedite processing to allow them to leave for Seoul. A total of 249 North Koreans have reached the South by gaining sanctuary in ROK overseas missions, plus a further 88 via other countries’ embassies, almost all in China.

: Unification Ministry (MOU) says that as of end-August, 538,132 South Koreans have visited the Mt. Kumgang resort since tours began in November 1998.

: North Korea accuses the South of a confrontational stance with its recent large Armed Forces Day ceremony and military parade in Seoul (its first in five years), where high-tech weapons including missiles were displayed. Recent parades in Pyongyang, despite predictions to the contrary, have been low-key events devoid of similar hardware.

: A 300-strong Southern civic delegation participates in joint national Foundation Day celebrations in Pyongyang. A “scientific seminar” is held on Tangun, the legendary founder of Korea, whom the DPRK regards as a historical figure.

: Prosecutors in Seoul question Song Doo-yul, a ROK-born German philosophy professor and long-time activist in exile, who denies he is an alternate DPRK Politburo member.

: Seven North Korean feature films are to be shown at the Pusan International Film Festival. A South Korean film, Arirang, is shown in Pyongyang.

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