Chronologies

North Korea - South Korea

Chronology from May 2015 to Aug 2015


: DPRK media report Kim Jong Un sent a condolence message on the third anniversary of the death of Unification Church founder Moon Sun-myung to his family.

: South Korea’s Red Cross proposes talks at Panmunjom on Sept. 7 to arrange family reunions. North Korea promptly agrees on Aug. 30.

: Gallup poll taken on Aug. 25-27 finds that President Park’s approval rating shot up by 15 percentage points since last week to 49 percent, its highest this year.

: President Park for the first time attends the joint ROK-US Integrated Firepower Exercise live-fire drill in Pocheon near the DMZ, the eighth of its kind. Its scenario is that the KPA fires on a South Korean guard post, prompting massive retaliation by ROK and US forces.

: Kim Jong Un again convenes a (much) enlarged WPK CMC. In somewhat ambivalent remarks he praises the KPA’s “military muscle” but endorses Aug. 25’s accord. Membership changes to the CMC are reported, but no names named.

: After marathon talks, haggard negotiators announce around 2:00am that a six-point accord has been reached. Family reunions will resume, as will other talks and NGO contacts. The South will switch off its loudspeakers, and the North lift its state of semi-war.

: Unnamed ROK military official tells Yonhap that two-thirds of the DPRK submarine fleet (50 out of 70) has put to sea, current location unknown. The same source says the KPA has doubled its artillery troops on the border, with the command to be combat ready.

: Before its 48 hour deadline expires, the DPRK suggests talks instead. High-level negotiators from both sides meet at Panmunjom. The meeting breaks up at 4:15am.

: Despite tensions, 83 South Koreans are in Pyongyang for a youth soccer tournament also involving China and Brazil. Seoul says it does not regard them as at risk.

: KPA fires four artillery rounds across the DMZ. An hour later the ROKA ripostes with 29 rounds. KPA General Staff Department warns that it will launch military action unless the South stops psywar broadcasts and removes all facilities within 48 hours of 5:00pm today. 2,000 residents of Southern border areas in Yeoncheon, Paju, Gimpo, and Kanghwado are told to evacuate. The ROK military raises its security posture to the highest level of readiness.

: Kim Jong Un convenes an enlarged meeting of the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK). This declares a “semi-war state.”

: KCNA headline, supposedly quoting the (not previously known) DPRK Joint National Organization of Working People, avers: “Park Geun Hye Should Be Buried in Cemetery as Soon as Possible.” The article concludes: “No matter how glittering make-up she may put [sic], it is too late to prevent the foul smell from reeking off from her body interwoven with sycophancy, treachery, confrontation and hostility. What she should do for the nation is to leave Chongwadae, the doghouse of the US, shut her unshapely mouth and get her crime-ridden body buried in the ceremony [sic] at an early date.”

: Annual joint US-ROK military exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) begins as scheduled.

: After almost six months of dispute the two Koreas finally agree on wages at the joint venture Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC). The North accepts the existing 5 percent ceiling on annual pay hikes, but the South agrees to recalculate this to include bonuses.

: Headline in the Seoul daily Korea Herald declares that “All inter-Korean liberation events scrapped.” (In fact, as the article shows, despite several proposals nothing concrete had yet been organized.)

: UN Command (UNC) accuses North Korea of recently laying the mines that exploded on Aug. 4. Vowing “pitiless” but proportionate retaliation, the same day South Korea reactivates propaganda loudspeakers along the DMZ, silent since 2004.

: Lee Hee-ho and her party return from Pyongyang, having not been able to meet either her nominal host Kim Jong Un or any other senior figures.

: Ex-ROK First Lady Lee Hee-ho, widow of Kim Dae-jung and an 18-strong delegation fly to Pyongyang, on an aircraft provided by an ROK low-cost carrier.

: A landmine blast maims two ROK sergeants on a routine patrol in the DMZ.

: MND says that on July 31 the KPA athletic guidance committee informed the International Military Sports Council (CISM) that the DPRK will not after all participate in the Military World Games to be held in Mungyeong, ROK on Oct. 2-11. No reason is given.

: North Korea cancels the talks due in Kaesong next day on joint Liberation Day celebrations, asking rhetorically: “Will a joint event on Aug. 15 be possible amid a confrontation among kindred…?” This ends any prospect of organizing such events.

: At North Korea’s invitation, Southern NGOs go to Kaesong to discuss joint Aug. 15 events. Failing to agree anything concrete, they decide to meet again on July 31.

: North Korea rejects the South’s two recent contact suggestions, saying the atmosphere is not ripe given Southern hostility. Its Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) is scathing about the SDD saying, “It is loathsome on its own that South Korea is hosting talks on security.”

: Bank of Korea (BOK), the ROK central bank, issues its annual report and estimates on the DPRK economy, which it reckons grew by 1.0 percent last year.

: The ROK Ministry of National Defense (MND) says that, in a telephone call that day via the west coast hotline, it has for the first time invited the DPRK to join the 33 countries due to attend the multilateral Seoul Defense Dialogue (SDD) in September. MND suggests that the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces (MPAF) send a vice-minister.

: ROK Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo says the DPRK’s denuclearization is not an “absolute prerequisite” for better inter-Korean ties and more exchanges, provided Pyongyang makes the right choice to walk on the path in that direction.

: After further talks in Kaesong, the Kim Dae-Jung Peace Center announces that former ROK First Lady Lee Hee-Ho will visit Pyongyang on Aug. 5-8, traveling by air.

: The aforementioned new UN human rights field office in Seoul is officially inaugurated by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

: Organizers of the upcoming Gwangju Universiade (world student games) say North Korea sent an email on June 19 withdrawing its participation for political reasons; namely the imminent opening in Seoul of a UN office to monitor human rights in the DPRK.

: Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), affiliated to the ROK Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy (MOTIE), reports that North Korea’s trade fell by 18 percent in 2015, ending five straight years of growth. The main cause is falling prices for coal and other key exports to China, by far the DPRK’s largest market. However these figures exclude inter-Korean trade, which despite comprising solely the KIC bucked the trend: rising 15.8 percent to $2.71 billion in its final full year before Seoul shut down the zone this Feb.

: KCNA claims that North Korea is suffering its worst drought in 100 years. Some observers doubt if things are quite that bad.

: South Korean NGO committee that held talks with North Korea on anniversary events for the 2000 Summit blames the ROK government for their collapse.

: Vice Transportation Minister Yeo Hyung-koo says a DPRK veto has blocked ROK’s application to join the Moscow-based Organization for Cooperation between Railways (OSJD), even though Seoul recently hosted an OSJD event. The organization may revise its rules so that unanimity is not required. Pyongyang did the same last time Seoul tried, in 2003.

: Yonhap reports that the two Koreas have failed to agree on joint events for the 15th anniversary of the first inter-Korean summit on June 15.

: DPRK’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK), in a tone which (as often) is at odds with its name, attacks a planned new UN office in Seoul to monitor human rights in the North as an “unpardonable provocation” and “open declaration of war.” It vows that “As soon as that anti-North base is set up in the South, it will be our very first target with merciless retribution.”

: “Women Cross DMZ” enter South Korea by land from the North, using a bus through the western crossing from Kaesong rather than walking via Panmunjom as they had initially hoped. Allegations of naiveté toward the DPRK give them a mixed reception in Seoul, and later Washington, although they also had some defenders.

: At one day’s notice and without explanation, North Korea cancels a planned visit to the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) by UN Secretary General (and former ROK Foreign Minister) Ban Ki-Moon, who is visiting Seoul.

: South Korea’s NIS claims that the North’s Minister of People’s Armed Forces (MPAF), Hyon Yong Chol, was executed by anti-aircraft machines gun fire circa April 30 at a military school in Pyongyang for insubordination to Kim Jong Un.

: Rodong Sinmun announces the death of Korean People’s Army (KPA) Gen. Kim Kyok Sik. As commander of the KPA’s Fourth Corps based in Hwanghae Province in 2010, Kim is regarded in Seoul as having masterminded that year’s two fatal attacks: the torpedoing of the corvette Cheonan in March, and the shelling of Yeongpyeong Island in November.

: Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun, President Park Geun-hye’s special envoy to Russia’s VE day commemorations, exchanges pleasantries with Kim Yong Nam, North Korea’s titular head of state, at the parade in Moscow. Kim Jong Un had been expected to attend, but did not.

: Meeting in Shenyang, the two Koreas agree to push for joint events to mark the 15th anniversary of the first inter-Korean summit in June and the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japan’s colonial rule in August. No details are given. Seoul is represented by NGOs; the ROK government will review and must approve any concrete proposals.

: DPRK issues an “emergency special warning,” threatening to attack ROK speedboats that it claims have been violating its territorial waters in the West (Yellow) Sea several times daily for the past week.

: Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency says it arrested a 28 year old man for posting dozens of pro-DPRK articles online between December 2011 and April 2013. 20 fellow-members of Corean Alliance, a civic group dubbed “anti-state” by the ROK government, demonstrate in front of Suwon police station, claiming the arrest stifles free speech.

: South Korea rejects as “inappropriate” a call by the North to lift economic sanctions as a precondition for inter-Korean dialogue.

: Hwang Joon-kook, ROK special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, tells reporters in Washington that the other five participant states in the Six-Party Talks are “pushing for unconditional exploratory talks” with North Korea.

: The ROK government approves a meeting by Southern civic groups with their Northern counterparts, to discuss joint events marking the 70th anniversary of liberation from Japan in 1945. A five-strong delegation flies to Shenyang, China and holds talks there on May 5-6. The outcome is not known at this writing.

: In a 6-3 decision, the ROK Constitutional Court upholds the National Security Law (NSL)’s comprehensive ban on anti-state activities. It rejects a suit brought by a certain Song, charged under the NSL because Kim Il Sung’s memoirs were found on his computer hard drive. The dissenting judges argued that purpose matters rather than possession per se.

: ROK government approves a meeting by Southern civic groups with their Northern counterparts to discuss joint events marking the 15th anniversary of the first inter-Korean summit in 2000 and the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japan in 1945.

: In a 6-3 decision, the ROK Constitutional Court upholds the National Security Law (NSL)’s comprehensive ban on anti-state activities. It rejects a suit brought by a certain Song, charged under the NSL because Kim Il Sung’s memoirs were found on his computer hard drive. The dissenting judges argued that purpose matters rather than possession per se.

: Two middle-aged South Koreans arrested in March are interviewed (separately) by CNN, who were invited to Pyongyang without being told why. Missionary Kim Kuk-gi (61) and businessman Choe Chun-gil (56) confess to being spies (the ROK NIS denies this), praise Kim Jong Un for treating them well, and say their own government has disowned them.

: Three ROK provinces and Busan city announce plans to resume suspended aid to or cooperation with the DPRK, now that Seoul has give local authorities a green light.

: Two South Koreans arrested in March are interviewed (separately) by CNN. Missionary Kim Kuk-gi (61) and businessman Choe Chun-gil (56) confess to being spies (ROK’s National Intelligence Service [NIS] denies this), praise Kim Jong Un for treating them well, and say their own government has disowned them.

: Three ROK provinces and Busan city announce plans to resume suspended aid to or cooperation with the DPRK, now that Seoul has given local authorities a green light.

: KCNA announces the DPRK’s official support for a May 24 peace march from Pyongyang to Seoul, organized by the US-based Women Cross DMZ. Two Nobel Peace Prize laureates are among the participants. The ROK government had already said it will let the group enter the South via the DMZ, if the DPRK allows passage. The march has some critics.

: KCNA reports that Joo Won-moon, a 21 year old South Korean living (with permanent US residence) in Tenafly, NJ and studying at New York University, entered the DPRK illegally by crossing the Yalu River from China on April 22 and is under arrest. On May 4 Joo tells CNN he wanted to be arrested, hoping this will assist inter-Korean peace.

: Official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) proclaims DPRK support for a planned peace march from Pyongyang to Seoul, organized by US-based ad hoc group Women Cross DMZ. The 30 international participants include the feminist Gloria Steinem and two Nobel Peace Prize laureates.

: KCNA reports that Joo Won-Moon, a 21 year old South Korean living (with permanent US residence) in Tenafly, NJ and studying at New York University, entered the DPRK illegally by crossing the Yalu River from China on April 22 and is under arrest. On May 4 Joo tells CNN he wanted to be arrested, hoping this will assist inter-Korean peace.

Date Range