North Korea - South Korea
Chronology from Oct 2004 to Dec 2004
: ROK Unification Ministry tallies the year’s total of North Korean defectors at 1,890, up 48 percent from 2003. Two-thirds (1,167) are female.
: An opinion poll finds that only 32 percent of South Koreans support NGOs who try to help North Koreans defect, while 62 percent oppose this; 50 percent back official policy toward the North.
: Korea Telecom says that, after eight months of talks, it has agreed on providing telephone service to the KIZ. Call rates will not exceed 50 cents per minute.
: DPRK KCNA calls U.S. a “disturber of inter-Korean economic cooperation” for restricting ROK technology transfers to the Kaesong Industrial Zone.
: ROK Foreign Ministry names Song Min-soo to replace Lee Soo-hyuck as chief negotiator at the six-party nuclear talks. If and when these reconvene, four of the six delegations – all except North Korea and Russia – will have new heads.
: The North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland (CPRF) blames the Southern government for the rupture in North-South ties, accusing it of systematically harming relations by various actions over the past two years.
: DPRK website dismisses GNP’s new Northern policy as “a group of pro-American traitors and fascists opposed to democracy” who are stirring “anti-north confrontation.”
: ROK Vice Unification Minister Rhee announces tighter procedures for future defectors, including intensified screening and reduced resettlement grants.
: South Korea says that it will, as usual, send 100,000 tons of corn to the North via the World Food Program. This will be purchased in China, costing $24 million.
: Four North Koreans seek asylum at the French mission in Hanoi, having allegedly been turned away by the South Koream embassy there.
: Seven North Koreans, including a female polio victim and a child, seek sanctuary in a Japanese school in Beijing. 29 took the same route in September.
: Seoul court awards damages of W104 million to the widow of Lee Han-young, nephew of Kim Jong-il’s ex-consort Song Hye-rim, who defected in 1982 and was murdered in 1997 – by presumed DPRK agents. The court blamed the government for not protecting him.
: Livingart’s first 1,000 saucepan sets, the first products to be made in the KIZ, sell out in Seoul in two days. The next batch of 2,800 hits the shops on Dec. 29.
: Four North Koreans take refuge in a South Korean school in Beijing.
: In his first visit to North Korea, Unification Minister Chung Dong-young leads a 380-strong Southern delegation to the KIZ for a ceremony to mark the first production of goods by an ROK firm, Livingart, in the KIZ. He is cold-shouldered by the DPRK’s far more junior delegation head, and Northern media do not report his presence.
: Seoul’s Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) reveals that Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) inflated its 2000 earnings by Won 1.2 trillion. It is suspected that this relates to further secret payments to Pyongyang before the June 2000 summit, beyond the W223.5 billion which HMM has already admitted sending.
: ROK FM Ban criticizes the Chinese embassy in Seoul for threatening an opposition lawmaker who chairs an NGO group aiding DPRK refugees in China.
: Hudson Institute’s Michael Horowitz causes shock waves at a conference in Seoul when he likens ROK policy on North Korea to “making love to a corpse.”
: It is agreed that Kepco, South Korea’s state electricity provider, will supply 15,000 kilowatts of power per hour across the DMZ to the Kaesong Industrial Zone (KIZ) from January.
: ROK government reveals that a former DPRK army sergeant who defected last year is being probed on suspicion of spying after making an illicit trip to North Korea.
: A meeting of both Koreas’ Red Cross officials at Mt. Kumgang agrees to hold a site survey for a planned but delayed family reunion center on Dec. 10-21. There is no schedule to hold further reunions, of which there have been none since July.
: After interviewing three DPRK defectors in Seoul, Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre says he is convinced that North Korea tests lethal gases for weapons on prisoners. ROK government claims there is no firm evidence.
: ROK Vice Unification Minister Rhee Bong-jo and others take part in an event at the Mt. Kumgang resort to mark the sixth anniversary of Southern tourism there. They deny having any contact with senior DPRK officials during their three-day visit.
: Opposition lawmakers criticize ROK Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung for saying that he plans not to name North Korea as “main enemy” in next year’s defense white paper. Owing to controversy over this term, first used in 1995, no white paper has appeared since 2000.
: Hwang Dae-soo, a DPRK interpreter in Vladivostok, seeks asylum at the ROK consulate after a year in hiding, only to be met with curses. When officials learn this exchange has been taped (via a hidden cellphone), he is allowed to come to Seoul, arriving on Dec. 18.
: South Korea announces plans to ban access to some 31 DPRK websites, at police request, under the National Security Law (whose own repeal is being hotly debated.) The ban is implemented – somewhat erratically – later in the month, amid widespread protests.
: Officials in the ROK island province of Cheju say they will ship 10,000 tons of tangerines to North Korea. Since 1998 Cheju has donated 25,000 tons of the fruit to the DPRK, plus 6,000 tons of carrots. In return, two planeloads of Cheju tourists have visited Pyongyang.
: Rodong Sinmun, the daily paper of North Korea’s ruling Korean Workers’ Party (KWP), brands Southern contingency plans in case of a DPRK collapse (see Oct. 4) as “perfidy.”
: A defector organization in Seoul publishes “Names Lost To NK Gulags,” a list of 617 persons believed to be detained currently or since the 1970s in North Korean prison camps. They include a former ROK officer who defected across the DMZ to the North in the 1970s.
: Chinese police arrest 63 DPRK migrants and two ROK activists in pre-dawn raids on two apartments in Beijing. The North Koreans are believed to have been deported soon after.
: Fourteen North Koreans try to enter the ROK consulate in Beijing. Eleven make it, but three are caught by Chinese guards.
: Twenty-Nine North Koreans seek sanctuary in a South Korean school in Beijing.
: A 230-strong Southern delegation crosses the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to the North’s Kaesong Industrial Zone (KIZ) for the opening ceremony of the Kaesong Complex Management Committee, legally a DPRK corporate body, but staffed by 30 ROK officials.
: President George W. Bush signs the North Korean Human Rights Act into law. The DPRK has attacked this as a plot to bring down its regime. The ROK government is also uneasy, regarding the Act as unhelpful and potentially destabilizing.
: ROK Unification Ministry says inter-Korean trade in the first nine months fell by 3.3 percent from 2003, to $492 million. ROK imports fell by 8.6 percent to $176 million, while exports were steady at $316 million. Most of the latter ($248 million) was aid, up 15 percent.
: A report by the ROK Unification Ministry says 70 percent of DPRK defectors in the South are living in poverty. It attributes this to their unfamiliarity with capitalist culture.
: The South returns five Northern fishermen who had drifted into its waters, two via Panmunjom, and three at sea. All had asked to go home, and the DPRK Navy had radioed asking for ROK help in rescuing and repatriating them.
: Twenty North Koreans seek refuge in the South Korean consulate in Beijing, which later closes due to the pressure of hosting some 130 defectors awaiting clearance to go to Seoul.
: South Korea’s Red Cross warns that, due to the chill in inter-Korean ties, it cannot guarantee the usual 100,000 tons of fertilizer this fall (in addition to 200,000 tons already sent in spring). It relents two weeks later, and delivery is completed Dec. 21.
: Military officers from both Koreas meet for the first time in three months to discuss cross-border road and rail links. At the border, USAF Maj. Gen. Thomas P. Kane predicts that within a year cross-border road traffic could see 1,000 movements daily in either direction.
: Chung Moon-hun, a lawmaker of the ROK opposition Grand National Party (GNP), reveals secret Southern contingency plans in case of DPRK regime collapse and mass defections.