Chronologies

North Korea - South Korea

Chronology from Oct 2007 to Dec 2007


: Meeting in Kaesong, the Koreas agree to conduct a one-day survey on Jan. 31 toward establishing a joint economic area around the DPRK port city of Haeju.

: The two Koreas and China meet in Pyongyang to discuss supplying non-oil energy aid. This is the first formal SPT-related meeting to be held inside North Korea.

: The North-South subcommittee on shipbuilding and marine cooperation holds its first meeting in Busan, South Korea’s second city and main port.

: In the first reported Northern comment on the South’s new president-elect, Senior Cabinet Councilor Kwon Ho-ung, the North’s chief delegate to inter-Korean talks, says he hopes this will not change “the general trend of inter-Korean cooperation.”

: Lee Myung-bak of the conservative opposition Grand National Party (GNP) wins South Korea’s presidential election, on a platform that includes a harder line towards North Korea. Lee polls 49 percent of all votes. Ex-unification minister, Chung Dong-young, standing for the pro-Sunshine United New Democratic Party (UNDP), takes only 26 percent. The hard-right Lee Hoi-chang receives 15 percent.

: The ROK Commerce, Industry, and Energy Ministry (MOCIE) leads a 37-strong official and business group – including representatives from Samsung and Daewoo, respectively the world’s second and third largest shipbuilders – on site visits to check the feasibility of plans to cooperate in shipbuilding at Nampo and Anbyon, DPRK.

: 500 tons of DPRK zinc, worth $1.2 million, arrive at Incheon as the first payment for the South’s sending materials worth $80 million for Northern consumer industries. Although Seoul’s annual supply of rice and fertilizer is nominally also a loan, MOU says this is the first time Pyongyang has ever repaid any debt to South Korea.

: Meeting in Kaesong, both Koreas agree on proposed joint fishing zones east of the peninsula (where there is no NLL issue). The South will provide fishing gear as payment for fish caught in Northern waters. A 20-strong ROK survey team will go North on Dec. 21-25 to start work on a joint fisheries research and storage center.

: Talks between generals at Panmunjom fail to break the deadlock over the NLL, ending with no joint statement or press release. They do agree on security guarantees for the Kaesong and Mt. Kumgang zones: entry and customs procedures will be streamlined, and South Koreans may use the internet and mobile phones.

: Daily rail freight service begins across the DMZ, travelling 10 km between Munsan in the South and Panmun in the North. The train reportedly often runs empty.

: Hyundai Asan inaugurates regular day trip tours from Seoul to Kaesong.

: The Joint Committee for Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation (JCIKEC), newly promoted to deputy minister level, meets in Seoul and agrees further details on implementing joint projects.

: Kim Yang-gon, the DPRK’s intelligence chief, makes a previously unannounced visit to South Korea. His itinerary includes Daewoo’s shipyard.

: A joint working-level meeting in Kaesong discusses repaving the Kaesong-Pyongyang expressway.

: Ninth round of Red Cross talks, held at Mt. Kumgang, agrees to expand separated family reunions, inaugurate video letters, look into those missing during and after the Korean War, and meet again when a permanent reunion center opens.

: Three separate Southern survey teams visit the North, respectively to look into tourism to Mt. Paekdu, joint shipbuilding at Anbyon, and hog farming.

: Meeting for only the second time ever, in Pyongyang, the two Koreas’ defense ministers fail to agree on a West Sea fishing zone due to the usual stalemate over the NLL issue. But they do agree on military guarantees for other inter-Korean projects.

: 200 tons of graphite, the first output from a $10 million joint venture processing plant near Haeju, arrives by ship at Incheon.

: KCCI publishes a report on North Korea’s minerals. It reckons these are worth $2.4 trillion, 30 times more than the South’s (which consumes $12 billion-worth annually, but is only 10 percent self-sufficient). In 2006 South Korea imported minerals worth $60 million from the North, less than a quarter of the $275 million taken by China.

: For the fifth year running a UN committee passes a resolution condemning North Korea for serious human rights abuses. South Korea abstains, as usual – except in 2006, when it voted aye.

: Kim Yong-il and ROK counterpart Han Duck-soo sign an eight-point accord of unprecedented substance, with 45 clauses and over 20 dates for meetings.

: As agreed at October’s summit, the DPRK premier Kim Yong-il visits Seoul for the first talks between the prime ministers of North and South in 15 years.

: The (South) Korea Tourism Association (KTA), representing 20,000 small-to medium-size ROK travel agencies, protests over Hyundai Asan’s monopoly of Southern tourism to North Korea, claiming this is unfairly subsidized by state funding.

: At a working meeting in Shenyang, both Koreas plus China agree on details of energy and alternative aid to Pyongyang under the SPT.

: Lee Hoi-chang, who narrowly lost South Korea’s last two presidential races for the conservative Grand National Party (GNP), says he will run in the election on Dec. 19 as an independent. He accuses Lee Myung-bak, as being soft on North Korea.

: The (South) Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) launches a private consultation group of business leaders to promote North-South cooperation.

: Hyun Jeong-eun, chairperson of Hyundai Asan, signs new tourism accord in Pyongyang. This allows Hyundai to run day trips to Kaesong, and (from May) direct flights from Seoul to Mt. Paekdu. The day before, Hyun was Kim Jong-il’s dinner guest.

: The SPT working group on energy and economic assistance, chaired by the ROK, meets at the truce village of Panmunjom in the DMZ.

: An ROK National Assembly research team headed by Shinn Chang-min, a professor at Chung-ang University in Seoul, estimates the cost of Korean reunification between $800 billion and $1.3 trillion. It says the South could cope with this, financially.

: 300 South Koreans mark the opening at the KIC of a multipurpose building containing both factory and living accommodation. With beds for 71 Southern staff, it will house 32 SMEs, mainly making clothing, and employ 2,700 Northern workers. If successful, seven more such facilities may be built in the Kaesong zone.

: Six-Party Talks (SPT) nuclear delegates from both Koreas meet at Mt. Kumgang to discuss details of supplying energy and equivalent aid to North Korea.

: Over 300 South Korean officials and business persons, including Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung, meet 100 from the North at the Kaesong industrial complex (KIC) to celebrate completion of its first phase. 57 ROK firms are there so far, employing 13,000 DPRK workers who earn $60 per month. 220 more Southern SMEs have signed up. The second phase, adding 8.26 million sq. meters to the existing 3.3 million, will start construction in 2008.

: Some 20 ROK tourists are injured, six critically, in a bridge collapse at Mt. Kumgang: the resort’s first serious accident in almost a decade of operation. Lack of air transport means a two-hour journey to the nearest hospital.

: Heads of the two Koreas’ news agencies hold their first meeting, in Pyongyang. Kim Ki-seo, president of the ROK’s Yonhap, proposes “active exchanges;” KCNA’s Kim Ki-ryong says “we are seriously studying” this – which Yonhap interprets as lukewarm. Both are co-hosting an exhibition of photographs of murals of Korea’s Koguryo kingdom with Japan’s Kyodo News Service, which opened on Oct. 11.

: Roh Moo-hyun causes controversy in Seoul by saying the NLL is not a territorial line but an operational military one.

: Roh Moo-hyun repeats his call to create an inter-Korean ecological park in the DMZ, even though Kim Jong-il had rejected this as premature.

: Seoul protests China’s arrest of four DPRK defectors at a South Korean international school in Beijing the previous day, and its use of force against ROK diplomats trying to protect them. It demands that the four North Koreans be handed over.

:   The Financial Times quotes a senior official in Busan – the ROK’s second city and the world’s fifth largest port – as saying: “we are positively reviewing investing in North Korea [and] have great interest in shipping containers through Rajin.”

: Roh Moo-hyun tells Russian President Vladimir Putin by telephone that the new inter-Korean concord will provide momentum to connect trans-Korean and trans-Siberian railways.

: The Seoul press reports that the defense ministry (MND) is considering establishing a bureau within the Blue House to discuss inter-Korean arms control, ahead of November’s meeting of the two sides’ defense ministers in Pyongyang.

: On the first anniversary of North Korea’s nuclear test, Rodong Sinmun, daily paper of the ruling Korean Worker’s Party (KWP), praises “the benevolent leader with his great sword, [who] made Korea into a strong independent state and handed our 70 million people skies of peace, skies of prosperity, skies of hopes to last forever.” The implication, bizarrely, is that South Koreans too are protected by, and proud of, the North’s deterrent.

: ROK Agriculture Minister Im Sang-gyu says that the DPRK wants joint ventures in fertilizers, adding that it would be of mutual benefit if Southern farmers and firms can raise silkworms and hogs and manufacture farm equipment in the North.

: In a speech to the ROK National Assembly, read by Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, Roh Moo-hyun opines that the North Korean nuclear issue “is heading toward a quick resolution.” Conservatives criticize him for failing to address this at the summit.

: ROK Chief Presidential Security Adviser Baek Jong-cheon insists that any peace agreement on the peninsula depends on progress in disabling the DPRK’s nuclear program under the SPT. Baek adds that the South will again demand the return of abductees and POWs at upcoming defense ministers’ talks in Pyongyang. Roh Moo-hyun raised this at the summit, but Kim Jong-il did not respond.

: ROK opinion poll reports 74 percent support for the summit, with 21 percent negative. Roh Moo-hyun’s approval rating rose 10 points to 43 percent. But over half still plan to vote for conservative opposition presidential candidate Lee Myung-bak.

: ROK Minister of Finance and Economy Kwon O-kyu says that Kim Jong-il “expressed keen interest in the South’s oil field and gas exploration projects.”

:   Hyundai Research Institute (HRI) reckons that inter-Korean cooperation agreed at the summit will cost $11.2 billion, but could generate long-run gains worth $150 billion: mostly for the North. By contrast, the Korea Development Bank (KDB) estimates that the second phase of the Kaesong industrial zone alone will require $14.9 billion. One opposition lawmaker claims the total cost will be some $33 billion.

: State-owned Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME), the world’s third largest shipbuilder, says it will invest $150 million to build prefabricated ship hulls at Anbyon on North Korea’s east coast, a project agreed at the summit.

: Roh Moo-hyun orders his Cabinet to to map out a concrete action plan to ensure the costs of peace agreement with the DPRK are estimated properly and implemented smoothly, so that it cannot be watered down or scrapped by his successor.

:   ROK Defense Minister Kim Jang-soo insists that creation of a West Sea peace zone in the West Sea will not affect the integrity of the NLL, which he says the summit “successfully defended.”

: Roh and Kim sign eight-point “Declaration for Development of North-South Relations and Peace and Prosperity.” Roh returns to Seoul via Nampo, where he visits the West Sea Barrage and Pyeonghwa Motors factory and the Kaesong industrial zone (KCNA omits to mention the latter.)

: Roh and Kim sign eight-point “Declaration for Development of North-South Relations and Peace and Prosperity.” Roh returns to Seoul via Nampo, where he visits the West Sea Barrage and Pyeonghwa Motors factory and the Gaesong industrial zone.

: Roh holds summit talks with a now more cordial Kim Jong-il, who asks him to stay an extra day; Roh declines. The Dear Leader does not attend a banquet hosted by Roh, nor accompany him to the Arirang mass games. ROK parliamentarians, industrialists, cultural figures, scientists, journalists, and others hold talks with their DPRK counterparts.

: A new Six-Party Talks (SPT) agreement is announced in Beijing. The DPRK agrees both to disable Yongbyon and declare all its nuclear facilities by the end of the year.

: KCNA reports that 10 Southern NGOs denounced the ROK Information and Communications Ministry for “anti-reunification acts” in demanding the deletion of some internet articles as violating the National Security Law.

: Roh holds summit talks with a now more cordial Kim Jong-il, who asks him to stay an extra day; Roh declines. The Dear Leader does not attend a banquet hosted by Roh, nor accompany him to the Arirang mass games. ROK parliamentarians, industrialists, cultural figures, scientists, journalists, and others hold talks with their DPRK opposite numbers.

: SPT agreement is announced in Beijing. North Korea agrees both to disable Yongbyon and to declare all its nuclear facilities by the end of the year.

: Roh and his 300-strong delegation drive to Pyongyang. He is greeted in Pyongyang by Kim Yong-nam, the DPRK titular head of state, and later by an unsmiling Kim Jong-il. Roh holds talks with Kim Yong-nam.

: Roh and his 300-strong delegation drive to Pyongyang. He is greeted in Pyongyang by Kim Yong-nam, the DPRK titular head of state, and later by an unsmiling Kim Jong-il. Roh holds talks with Kim Yong-nam.

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