Chronologies

North Korea - South Korea

Chronology from May 2013 to Aug 2013


: The two Koreas sign an accord on a new structure to jointly run the KIC. The new committee, with a chairman and five members from each side will meet at least quarterly. Four sub-committees – on guaranteeing personal safety; protecting assets; discussing passage, communications and customs; and strengthening global competitiveness – each with a head and three members from each side, are to meet monthly. A secretariat will support all of these.

: North Korea nixes the South’s suggested date of Oct. 2 for talks on resuming tours to Mount Kumgang, demanding these be held at once. Seoul urges Pyongyang to repeal its confiscation of ROK assets at the resort. A 55-person ROK team from MOU, KEPCO (the ROK power utility), and Hyundai Asan enter the resort for what Yonhap calls “a two-day spiffing up” ahead of family reunions. MOU’s people are the first ROK government officials allowed to cross into Kumgang in three years.

: The ROK National Intelligence Service (NIS), police and prosecutors raid 11 offices (including some in the National Assembly) and 7 homes of 10 officials of the far-left Unified Progressive Party (UPP), arresting three. UPP lawmaker Lee Seok-ki briefly goes on the run. The accused face a rare charge under the National Security Law (NSL) of conspiring to mount a pro-North Korean insurrection. Eighty pages of transcripts seem to support this claim.

: MOU says the two Koreas have “virtually agree[d] on how to set up the joint committee [to run the KIC]”.

: From a pool of applicants now down to 72,000 – it was originally 120,000, but nearly half have died since the program began in 2000 – the ROK Red Cross randomly selects 500 potential candidates for upcoming family reunions. On Aug. 29 the list is halved to 250, partly based on medical check-ups, with selection of the final 100 due by Sept. 16.

: A 46-year old North Korean defects to the South’s Gyodong Island, close to the DPRK and the Northern Limit Line (NLL), apparently by swimming from the mainland.

: After 11 hours of talks at Panmunjom, Red Cross officials from both Koreas agree to hold the first separated family reunions since 2010 at Mount Kumgang on Sept. 25-30. 40 families from each side who are too weak to travel will “meet” by video conferencing.

: Three North Koreans and a minder attend a UN-sponsored Youth Leadership Program (YLP), bringing 34 young people from 19 Asian countries to Gwangju in southwestern South Korea. Gwangju will host this event annually through 2015.

: Four months after the North de facto closed the KIC, the two Koreas reach a five-point agreement to reopen it.

: Seoul approves 280.9 billion won in insurance payments to 109 companies that have factories and assets in Kaesong. On the same day Pyongyang finally responds, calling for fresh talks to resolve the KIC impasse. Seoul accepts these.

: MOU issues a statement emphasizing that Seoul is losing patience with the North’s failure to respond to its call for decisive talks on the future of the Kaesong zone.

: ROK Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-Jae urges the North to clarify its stance on safeguards. Calling for “final talks” to resolve their differences, he warns that Seoul may take “grave measures” unless Pyongyang responds.

: MOU announces $7.3 million of aid to North Korea. The government and five NGOs will spend 1.47 billion won, while the ROK will also give $6.04 million for DPRK children via a UNICEF program.

: North Korea marks what it calls “the 60th anniversary of victory in the great Fatherland Liberation War,” more accurately known as the 1953 Armistice, with a military parade and mass demonstration in Pyongyang. President Park again calls on the North to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

: KIC talks break down at their sixth round, with no agreement on safeguards. A scuffle breaks out when the North’s chief negotiator Pak Chol Su and some 20 DPRK officials enter a room full of ROK journalists to explain their stance. Southern officials try to stop them.

: Fifth round talks sees some progress on “internationalization” of the KIC, but fails to make headway on the core issues.

: 21 players and 15 staff of North Korea’s women’s soccer team enter Seoul by air to compete in the East Asian Cup: the first DPRK team to play in the ROK since 2009.

: Fourth round of talks on and in the KIC fails to make progress. North Korea criticizes the South’s “very dishonest and insincere attitude” in “insisting only on the blame for the crisis in the zone and unilateral assurances against reoccurrence.”

: Third working contact is held on (and this time in) the KIC. Draft texts of an agreement on normalizing it are exchanged.

: Through a liaison channel at Panmunjom, North Korea notifies the South that due to heavy recent rainfall it will discharge water from its Imnam dam on the upper Bukhan river, and does so the same evening.

: CPRK accuses South Korea of rejecting its proposal to resume tourism to Mount Kumgang “under an unreasonable pretext.” However, given the South’s desire to prioritize reopening the KIC, “we shelve our recent proposal for talks.” CPRK adds “We are well aware of the real intention of the south side but restrain ourselves with a high degree of patience.”

: At a second round of talks to normalize the KIC, North Korea proposes separate talks on resuming tourism to Mount Kumgang, and reunions of separated families. The South agrees to the latter, but not the former.

: The two Koreas hold working talks at Panmunjom. The North agrees to let Southern businessmen visit the KIC on July 10 “to check and readjust equipment to reduce the damage” from the current rainy season, and also to “take finished products and raw and subsidiary materials out of the zone and carry equipment out of it.” The two sides agree in principle to reopen the KIC, and to work toward its “constructive development.”

: Seoul proposes working-level talks to normalize the KIC. The North agrees.

: North Korea says it will allow Southern businessmen invested in the KIC to visit the zone.

: MOU publishes a survey showing that Southern firms invested in Kaesong had reported losses totaling 1.6 trillion won ($1.4 billion) as of June 7.

: On the eve of planned Cabinet-level talks in Seoul, these fall through after the two sides disagree on the appropriate rank of their chief negotiators. Each blames the other.

: Working-level delegates from the two Koreas meet to arrange ministerial-level talks on a range of issues in inter-Korean relations. After 17 hours of negotiations, agreement is reached to hold such talks in Seoul on June 12-13.

: South Korean President Park Geun-hye calls on the North to accept her trust-building process. North Korea calls for comprehensive government-level discussions to resolve the issues of the Kaesong IC and the Mount Kumgang tourist resort.

: The North’s CPRK says it is ready to let Southern companies invested in Kaesong visit the zone. ROK Ministry of Unification (MOU) tells Pyongyang to talk to the ROK government, not to individuals.

: North Korea proposes talks with the South about jointly marking the 13th anniversary of the June 15, 2000 inter-Korean summit declaration. Seoul is cool, and on May 27 formally bans its own citizens from going to Pyongyang to take part in celebrations there.

: North Korea launches a total of six short-range missiles into the East Sea (as all Koreans call it, taking offense at the globally more common Sea of Japan).

: A report from the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the official DPRK mouthpiece, identifies Jang Jong Nam as minister of People’s Armed Forces (i.e., defense minister). This makes Jang the fourth to hold that post since April 2012.

: KCNA report identifies Jang Jong Nam as Minister of People’s Armed Forces. This makes Jang, a little-known general, the fourth to hold that post since April 2012; suggesting serious churn in the KPA.

: Rodong Sinmun, daily paper of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party (WPK), avers that “the DPRK remains steadfast in its attitude to meet any challenge of the hostile forces for aggression through an all-out action based on nuclear deterrent of justice, bring earlier the day of the final victory in the great war for national reunification and guarantee the prosperity of a reunified country and the independent dignity of the nation for all ages.”

: North’s Korean People’s Army (KPA) threatens to turn the South’s Seohae Islands, which lies close to the DPRK, into a “sea of flames.”

: Seoul press reports that the South is still supplying electricity to the KIC, albeit on a much smaller scale than before given the fall in demand. This suffices to keep a water purification plant running, which may serve part of nearby Kaesong city as well.

: The Seoul press reports that the South is still supplying electricity to the KIC, albeit on a much smaller scale than before given the fall in demand. This suffices to keep a water purification plant running, which may serve part of nearby Kaesong city as well.

: Under the headline “Kaesong Workers Sent Far and Wide,” the DailyNK – an online paper published in Seoul – claims the KIC’s workers have been widely dispersed to other worksites, suggesting there is little chance that the zone will reopen any time soon.

: Under the headline “Kaesong Workers Sent Far and Wide,” the DailyNK claims that the KIC’s 53,000 workers have been widely dispersed to other worksites; suggesting there is little chance that the zone will reopen any time soon.

: The last seven South Koreans leave the KIC. One last truck crosses the border into the zone, and returns after delivering $13 million to the North to pay wages and taxes.

: South Korea pulls the last seven workers from Kaesong Industrial Complex.

: The last seven South Koreans leave the KIC. One last truck crosses the border into the zone, and returns after delivering $13 million to the North to pay wages and taxes.

: ROK government offers 300 billion won ($272 million) compensation, in the form of loans, to Southern SMEs invested in the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), which has not operated normally since the DPRK withdrew all 53,000 workers on April 9. There is doubt as to whether this sum suffices to cover their losses thus far in full.

: The ROK government offers 300 billion won ($272 million) compensation, in the form of loans, to Southern SMEs invested in the KIC. It is unclear whether this suffices to cover their losses in full.

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