Chronologies

North Korea - South Korea

Chronology from May 2012 to Aug 2012


: ROK Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan tells a forum in Seoul that Kim Jong Un appears firmly in control of North Korea.

: The South’s Defense Ministry (MND) conveys a new medium-to-long-term defense plan to President Lee. Its provisions include doubling the Cyber Command’s staff to 1,000, upgrading both offensive and defensive capacity as well as a big increase in deployment of surface-to-surface missiles targeting North Korea’s nuclear facilities and missile bases.

:  Ground Self-Defense Force conducts exercise focused on attack and on evacuation of residents of Japan’s remote islands.

: Vice Foreign Minister Yamaguchi Tsuyoshi arrives in Beijing with a letter from Prime Minister Noda to President Hu in an effort to reduce tensions.

: Two Southern aid NGOs say the North unilaterally cancelled (via fax) talks due next day in Kaesong about potential help for flood victims. Two theories were offered: Northern anger at ongoing US-ROK military exercises, or damage there from Typhoon Bolaven,

: Japan’s central government rejects a Tokyo Metropolitan Government request for permission to land on one of the Senkaku Islands.

: The car of Ambassador Niwa is attacked in Beijing and the Japanese flag is torn from it. The Chinese Foreign Ministry expresses deep regret for the incident.

: Japanese Coast Guard releases video of encounter with Hong Kong activists.

: MOU sends a letter to Pyongyang urging it to give notice before discharging water from its Hwanggang Dam on the Imjin River, which flows into the South. Since Aug. 17 this has happened several times without warning. In October 2009 the North agreed to give prior notice, after a flash flood caused by such a discharge drowned six Southern campers.

: Japan Self-Defense Force conducts live-fire exercise focused on island defense.

: Lower House of Diet adopts resolution asserting Japanese sovereignty over Senkaku Islands.

: Prime Minister Noda pledges government efforts to protect Japanese sovereignty over Senkaku Islands.

: Park Geun-hye, the presidential candidate of South Korea’s ruling Saenuri party, says she will not tolerate security threats but that “various talks” with the North are needed to break the current deadlock.

: Government formally accepts Tokyo Metropolitan Government detailed petition for Senkaku landing.

: Ulchi Freedom Guardian, a regular annual computer-based joint ROK-US military exercise, is held as usual. Some 56,000 ROK and some 30,000 US forces participate. DPRK media, as always, claim that this is prelude to an invasion.
Aug. 21, 2012: MOU reports that output at Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) rose 23 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2012, to $236 million.

: Japanese activists land on Uotsuri Island; China protests violation of Chinese sovereignty; Japan rejects protest; anti-Japanese riots break out across China.

: Kim Jong Un visits the artillery unit on Mudo Island which in November 2010 shelled the South’s Yeonpyeong Island, killing four. He orders it “to turn the west sea into a graveyard of the invaders” if a single enemy shell lands in DPRK waters.This is one of several visits to the front by Kim ahead of regular annual US-ROK joint military exercises.

: ROK Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin accuses the North of trying to interfere in the South’s upcoming presidential election. He does not specify how.

: Moon Jae-in, front-runner to be the liberal opposition Democratic United Party (DUP)’s presidential candidate in December, says that if elected he would seek a third inter-Korean summit and an economic union with North Korea.

: Hong Kong activists deported.

: Tokyo Metropolitan Governments files petition with central government asking permission to land on Senkaku Islands for pre-purchase survey; government refuses formal acceptance citing lack of details in the Tokyo proposal.

: MOU allows the Korean branch of the Christian relief group World Vision to go to North Korea to discuss possible aid. A 3-person delegation holds talks in Kaesong next day. The ministry notes that so far this year 13 Southern NGOs have given assistance worth a total of 4.1 billion won ($3.6 million) to the North on 22 occasions.

: Supra-party group of 55 parliamentarians pays homage at Yasukuni Shrine; Land and Transport Minister Hata and Chairman of the National Safety Commission Matsubara visit separately in private capacity; Tokyo Gov. Ishihara also visits Yasukuni.

: Hong Kong activists land on Uotsuri Island in Senkakus; 14 are subsequently arrested by Okinawa Prefectural Police.

: Taiwan authorities prevent Taiwanese activists from joining Hong Kong activists’ Senkaku protest.

: Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura Osamu urges Cabinet members to exercise self-restraint with regard to Aug. 15 visits to Yasukuni Shrine.

: Hong Kong activists leave Hong Kong on ship bound for Senkaku Islands.

: Japan and China agree to add four daily flights from Haneda to Shanghai and Guangzhou each by March 2013, thereby doubling the current total to 16 daily flights.

: China and Japan conclude 47 agreements on environment and energy conservation involving public and private cooperation.

: South Korea’s MOU announces that the 51,310 North Korean workers at the joint venture Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) would receive their usual 5 percent annual pay hike. This takes the basic monthly wage to $67.05. [Yes, that is per MONTH].

:  Japan-China Comprehensive Energy Conservation and Environment Forum meets in Tokyo; Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Edano Yukio urges resumption of negotiations on joint development of natural gas fields in East China Sea.

: A Hyundai Asan executive confirms that North Korea has taken over Hyundai’s facilities at the now little-used resort, and says they are “fairly well maintained.”

: Taiwan ship spotted conducting research, without notification, in Japan’s EEZ.

: Taiwan’s President Ma ying-jeou proposes Taiwan, Japan, and China participate in joint development of resources in East China Sea.

: ROK government source claims that the KPA is realigning some front-line military units, including moving some 50 Mi-2 and Mi-4 attack helicopters to its Taetan and Nuchon air bases near the Yellow/West Sea border. This renders them vulnerable, so it is speculated that it was Kim Jong-un’s order rather than that of military specialists.

: A delegation from Hyundai Asan is allowed to visit Mount Kumgang to mark the ninth anniversary of the suicide of former Hyundai group chairman Chung Mong-hun.

: Under KCNA’s headline “DPRK Will Take Corresponding Measures against Terrorism,” the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) directly threatens “wicked traitor Kim Yong Hwan,” whom it also calls a “despicable renegade,” and three other named individuals in South Korea as “targets to be punished.”

:   In Qidong, 5,000 Chinese protest Japanese Oji Paper Co. plan to build a pipeline to channel polluted water into East China Sea.

: Park Sun-young, an ex-lawmaker and human rights activist, claims that some 100 defectors living on Jeju Island alone have gone back to the North this year. MOU denies this, saying the real number of double-defectors is minuscule. It does seem to be increasing however.

: Tokyo Municipal Government runs ad in Wall Street Journal calling for US support of Senkaku purchase plan.

: At the Summer Olympics in the UK, the DPRK women’s soccer team angrily leaves the field in Glasgow when a pre-match video screen mistakenly displays the ROK flag. They return after 40 minutes.

: At a press conference in Seoul, Kim Young-hwan, a prominent activist for North Korean human rights, claims he was tortured during three months’ detention in China.

: The North’s Korean Central Television ramps up its anti-Lee venom, apropos the nonexistent plot to blow up statues. A military dog is shown lunging toward a human-size rag doll with a name tag of the South Korean president, while KPA soldiers fire at paper targets with Lee’s name, parodied images and accusations against Lee written on them.

: At a press conference in Pyongyang Jon Yong-chol, said to be a defector, confesses to “trying to perpetrate hideous crime of destroying statues and monuments in the DPRK at the instructions of the US and south Korean intelligence agencies.” North Korean media launch a vitriolic campaign about this. There is no evidence of any such plot. Seoul confirms that Jon had been a defector; a friend of his claims he was actually a drug dealer.

: Ambassador Niwa is recalled for consultations; returns to Beijing on July 16.

: Japanese Coast Guard identifies a total of four Chinese Maritime Fisheries Enforcement Agency ships operating in Japan’s contiguous zone in the Senkakus.

:   Apple pulls “Defend the Diaoyu Islands” game from its App store in Beijing; the game depicts a Japanese invasion of the islands

: Fortune Global 500 reports 73 Chinese firms in its top ranking, which surpasses the 68 Japanese firms in the group.

: Government officials inform Gov. Ishihara of central government’s intent to purchase Senkaku Islands.

: Roh So-hui, 68, a pro-North activist who illicitly entered the DPRK via China on March 24, to be much featured in Pyongyang media thereafter, is seized and bound with ropes as he returns home by crossing the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) at Panmunjom. On Aug. 9 he is charged with pro-enemy activities under the National Security Law (NSL). Nearby, ROK police keep apart rival demonstrations by groups welcoming him home and denouncing him. The latter display a coffin and burn effigies of both Ro and Kim Jong Un.

: Japanese Coast Guard identifies Taiwanese ship, carrying Taiwanese activists, entering Japanese territorial waters in the Senkaku Islands.

: Japan puts into effect multiple entry visas for Chinese tourists for Fukushima, Iwate, and Miyagi prefectures; visa is conditioned on staying at least one night in the region on their first visit.

: MOU says the number of Northern defectors reaching South Korea fell 43 percent in the first five months of this year to 610 from 1,062 in the same period last year, due to increased security along the North Korea-China border.

: On the 10th anniversary of a naval clash that killed six ROK sailors, Lee Myung-bak is the first president ever to attend the annual memorial. The Seoul press claims a cover-up at the time saying that then-president Kim Dae-jung accepted the North’s claim that this was an accident and suppressed contrary evidence so as not to jeopardize his “Sunshine Policy.”

: Anticipating Tokyo birth of panda cub from giant panda on loan from China, Tokyo Gov. Ishihara suggests the cub be named “Sen-Sen” or “Kaku-Kaku.” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson blasts the suggestion as “a clumsy performance that will only tarnish the image of Japan and Tokyo.’

: At a press conference in Pyongyang which KCNA serializes over a week in seven parts, Pak Jong Suk (66), a returned defector, confesses her sins and fulsomely thanks Kim Jong Un for forgiving her and letting her come back to live with her son in Pyongyang.

: Kang Mi-hwa, who works for shoemaker Samduk Tongsang in the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), is garlanded as the millionth person to pass through the ROK’s Dorasan immigration office since it opened in 2003. Some 400 South Koreans commute daily to the KIC across the once impassable DMZ; Ms Kang has been doing so since 2005.

: Japan’s Ministry of Defense reports three Chinese warships had transited between Okinawa and Miyakojima on return from exercises in western Pacific (the same warships that had transited the Osumi Strait on June 14)

: Academic symposium marking 40th anniversary of normalization opens in Shanghai. Former Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo attends along with Tang Jiaxuan, Chinese head of the China-Japan Friendship Association.

: China’s Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua criticizes Japan for supporting Uighur anti-China activities and equates Uighur activities with Aum Shinrikyo.

: ROK Foreign Ministry (MOFAT) admits some of its staff in Thailand have treated Northern defectors high-handedly. Two female employees are relieved of their duties. They had admitted shouting but denied swearing, as one elderly refugee alleged.

: “Virgin bomber” Kim Hyon-hui, convicted of but pardoned for the 1987 KAL 858 bombing (115 died), does her first TV talk show. As in her book, she claims Kim Jong Il personally ordered the bombing to disrupt the Seoul Olympics, and chose a plane full of Koreans working in the Middle East to avoid any repercussions if foreigners were killed.

: Chinese media report that quarantine authorities find cadmium in fish imported from Japan.

: Japanese Coast Guard aircraft find Chinese maritime research ship, Dong ang Hong 2, conducting research in an area outside the area for which it had asked permission; a Coast Guard patrol ship orders the Chinese ship to cease research and the captain complies.

: Nagashima Akihisa, special advisor to prime minister, in TV interview supports government possession of Senkaku Islands.

: Three Chinese warships transit Osumi Strait for exercises in the western Pacific.

: Gov. Ishihara appears before Lower House Budget Committee.

: MOU says it will amend the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Act. In the future South Koreans and Northern defectors will no longer have to seek permission to send a certain amount (yet to be specified) of money to relatives in the North for living and medical expenses. MOU also plans a register of businesses involved in inter-Korean trade – currently banned except for the KIC – so that they can receive support (presumably compensation).

: Criticizing persecution of pro-Pyongyang elements in the South, the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) threatens to disclose favorable comments made by conservative ROK presidential hopefuls such as Park Geun-hye, Chung Mong-joon, and Kim Moon-soo during their past visits to the DPRK, adding that this “will just stun all south Koreans.” As of September this threat had not been carried out.

: Tokyo Municipal Government announces dispatch of two-man survey team to the Senkaku Islands.

: Japan’s Ambassador to China Niwa Uichiro expresses concern over Senkaku purchase plan in a Financial Times interview. He apologizes for confusion caused by his statement the following day.

:   A foundation linked to the leftist Seoul daily Hankyoreh co-hosts a forum in Dandong with that city and the ROK port of Incheon – which on June 6 signs an MOU on cooperation with another city in northeast China, Shenyang. North Korea sends two WPK Central Committee members and Ri Chang Dok, vice chair of its National Reconciliation Council (NRC). Though not formal participants in the forum, they meet Incheon mayor Song Young-gil; it is said to be the first inter-Korean meeting of officials of the Kim Jong Un era.

: Japanese Coast Guard identifies a Chinese Fisheries Law Enforcement ship operating in Japan’s contiguous zone in the Senkakus; the spotting is the fifth in 2012 and the second following Ishihara’s announcing of the Senkaku purchase plan.

: A military source in Seoul says that since mid-May sorties by KPA fighter jets have risen sharply to up to 50 per day. The previous day, one SU-25 fighter came near enough to the DMZ to cause four ROK interceptor planes to scramble in response.

: Tokyo Municipal Government takes up Ishihara’s Senkaku purchase plan.

: In an “open ultimatum to the south Korean group of traitors,” the KPA General Staff warns that it has “already targeted” Southern media for criticizing an ongoing children’s festival in Pyongyang.

: Former ROK Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan, now running for chairmanship of the DUP, says on the radio that North Korean human rights issues are its domestic affair and the South should not interfere. Two days later he dismisses a bill on DPRK human rights by the ruling conservative Saenuri party as a trick for “ultraconservative groups” to send more anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets across the DMZ. He also dismisses any criticism of such sentiments as a “new McCarthyism” in South Korea.

:   China and Japan launch direct foreign exchange system.

: “Flower of unification,” Lim Soo-kyung, famous for an unauthorized visit to North Korea in 1989 in her student days and is now a lawmaker for the DUP, gets into an altercation with a young defector, Baek Yosep. Calling Baek a “traitor,” she yells “How can a son of a bitch like you, a Northern defector of humble birth, come and challenge a lawmaker of the South Korean parliament?” Lim later apologizes several times, saying she was drunk.
June 4, 2012: ROK police say that a Seoul man aged 39 named Cho has been arrested for collusion with the Korean People’s Army (KPA)’s Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB) in China to distribute computer game programs infected with malignant codes in the ROK.

: Japanese police turn over alleged Chinese spy case to public prosecutors.

:   Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) election plank calls on government to purchase the Senkaku Islands.

: Citing intelligence sources, the Seoul daily JoongAng Ilbo reports the arrest of Lee Gyeong-ae, a DPRK spy who came to the South via Thailand last year posing as a defector. Her past missions included luring a defector back from the US to China, where she also laundered counterfeit dollars. She is the third such “honeytrap” agent caught since 2008.

: The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office says two men are under arrest on suspicion of leaking GPS jamming technology to North Korea. One, a 74-year-old named only as Lee, is a communist sentenced to life imprisonment in 1972 for spying for the North. Released on parole in 1990, he began a trading business with the DPRK in 1994.

: Foreign Minister Gemba Koichiro calls for an increase in Japan’s defense budget, citing in particular need to protect Japan’s southwest islands.

: “Cool Japan” exhibition opens in Beijing.

: Jun Won-tchack, a conservative lawyer, stirs controversy by suggesting on live TV (KBS) in Seoul a sharp question to be put to a few newly elected ROK lawmakers who are reputedly pro-Pyongyang: “If one can answer yes to the question, ‘Are Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il sons of bitches?’ then he or she is not a blind follower of the North.”
May 28, 2012: President Lee Myung-bak says in his biweekly radio address that “The North has repeatedly made wild assertions, but what matters more are some pro-North Korea groups within our society.” This is his first comment on an ongoing controversy over a pro-North faction within the far-left Unified Progressive Party (UPP).

: Former Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio visits China.

: Wall Street Journal quotes Unification Minister Yu saying “The reason why North Koreans criticize South Korea ever more strongly, we believe, is an expression of anxiety … I expect this kind of fidelity race (sic) will fade away as [Kim Jong Un’s] authority gets stabilized and anxiety is removed.”

: A study by Hyundai Research Institute senior fellow Hong Soon-jick claims that economic losses to South Korea during 2008-11 from the Lee administration’s reduction and later suspension of inter-Korean commerce totaled 10 trillion won ($8.3 billion), over five times more than the losses to North Korea (1.8 trillion won). This estimate is inflated by including opportunity costs, such as supposed losses of $4.1 billion from failure to go ahead with the second-phase expansion of the joint venture Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC).

: Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Senior Advisor Eda Satsuki meets Wang Jiarui, head of the CCP’s International department, in Beijing.

: Beijing informs Tokyo that the visit of the Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, Gen. Guo Boxiong, scheduled for May 24-28, is postponed “for work-related circumstances.  This is the second time the visit has been delayed.

: Chinese and Japanese officials meet in Hangzhou to discuss establishing high-level consultative mechanism on maritime issues.

: Seoul sources say GPS signals jamming by North Korea ceased on May 14. Some credit President Lee Myung-bak’s meeting with Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao on that day. Jamming had affected 609 flights by 10 ROK airlines and 48 by 22 foreign airlines as of May 9, when release of such data was stopped on security grounds.

: Asahikawa Medical University and four Chinese medical institutions announce the launch of joint on-line telemedicine system.

: Three People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy frigates transit in international waters between Okinawa and Miyakojima into the western Pacific.

: Guided by master potter Kim Jung-ok at Munkyong, 150 km south of Seoul, ROK Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik makes a terracotta jar on which he writes ‘Peaceful Unification’; as a symbol of the nation’s need to start preparing – in particular financially – for the two Koreas becoming one.

: Premier Wen Jiabao, Prime Minister Noda Yashihiko, and President Lee Myung-bak meet in Beijing for a trilateral summit.

: Russian authorities announce Korean and Chinese participation in infrastructure development on Etorofu and Kunashiri Islands.

: China-Japan-ROK trade ministers agree to launch free trade agreement talks by the end of 2012.

: The DPRK Foreign Ministry rejects the UNSC permanent members’ joint statement (see May 3) as “a grave illegal action of violating the sovereignty of the DPRK and its right to use space and nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.” It vows to continue both nuclear and rocket programs.

: The ROK Unification Ministry (MOU) says that 366 North Korean defectors arrived in South Korea in the first three months of this year, down sharply from 566 in the same period last year. It attributes the drop to a crackdown on the Sino-DPRK border.

: The ROK’s state-owned Export-Import Bank of Korea (Eximbank) reminds the DPRK’s Choson Trade Bank that the first repayment installment of $5.83 million for food loans, agreed in September 2000, falls due on June 7. No reply is received, nor any payment.

: Japanese, Chinese, and ROK finance ministers agree to strengthen financial cooperation through bond purchases.

: Japanese Coast Guard reports two Chinese Maritime Fisheries Law Enforcement ships entered Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands.

: Chinese, Japanese, and ROK environmental ministers meet in Beijing.

: In a joint statement at an IAEA meeting in Vienna, all the permanent members of the UN Security Council – including China and Russia – urge North Korea “to refrain from further actions which may cause grave security concerns in the region, including any nuclear tests.” They also reconfirm their “serious concern” at last month’s rocket launch.

: Panasonic announces opening of lithium battery production in Suzhou, following the closing of a plant in Osaka Prefecture.

: Officials in Seoul say that since April 28 252 flights in and out of South Korea have experienced GPS (Global Positioning System) signal jamming. On May 4 the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) directly accuses Pyongyang of responsibility.

: Officials in Seoul say that since April 28, 252 flights in and out of South Korea have experienced GPS (Global Positioning System) signal jamming.

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