Chronologies

North Korea - South Korea

Chronology from Jul 2007 to Oct 2007


: 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.

: SPT recess so that a draft accord can be referred back to all six capitals for approval.

: North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun says that “improved inter-Korean relations are urgent for achieving national unity and the country’s reunification.” It calls critics of the summit “traitors,” and says Koreans should “put up a more resolute struggle against the foreign forces’ domination and interference, and the traitors.”

: Second Southern advance party visits Pyongyang to check arrangements.

: The delayed Six-Party Talks open in Beijing.

: Kim Jae-hyun, president of Korean Land Corporation, which runs the Gaesong Industrial Park, is added to the ROK summit party.

: The Six-Party Talks fail to resume as expected in Beijing.

: A 35-strong ROK summit advance party crosses the border for a four-day visit. Roh’s chauffeur is allowed to drive an official ROK limousine to Pyongyang to familiarize himself with road conditions.

: The North’s Korean Central Broadcasting Station thanks 11 foreign leaders for their countries’ flood aid. Roh Moo-hyun is not among them.

: Sixty trucks bring the first batch of the South’s second-phase flood aid overland to the North.

: MOU announces Roh’s nongovernmental entourage for the summit. The 43 names include the heads of Hyundai Motor, Samsung Electronics, Posco, the LG and SK business groups, and 21 “social and cultural representatives.” The government team will include ministers of defense, finance and economy, unification, agriculture, health, and science and technology.

: North Korea says it has repaired flood damage to the motorway from Gaesong to Pyongyang.

: North Korea thanks half a dozen countries by name for sending flood aid. South Korea’s assistance, larger than any of these, goes unmentioned.

: Kim Yang-gon, who as director of the ruling Workers Party of Korea is the North’s point man on South Korea, makes a rare public appearance with Kim Jong-il at a military arts performance. He was last seen in March, when he accompanied the dear leader on a visit to the Chinese embassy in Pyongyang.

: The DPRK’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland denounces ROK opposition leader Lee Myung-bak’s criticisms of the upcoming summit and the North’s nuclear program as an “unpardonable … criminal act.”

: Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung announces an extra $40 million worth of flood aid for the DPRK, comprising 100,000 tons of cement, 5,000 tons. of iron bars, 80 trucks, 500 tons of gasoline, 20 road restoration vehicles, and 20,000 tons of pitch. Delivery will start in mid-September.

: ROK delivers 40 truckloads of instant noodles, blankets, emergency kits, and mineral water to Gaesong. The rest of the flood aid will follow by the month’s end.

: South Korea’s GNP demands that the summit be postponed until after the inauguration of the next president – widely predicted to be the GNP’s Lee Myung-bak – in February 2008.

: Citing ongoing U.S.-ROK wargames, the DPRK Foreign Ministry warns it will end dialogue and take “strong countermeasures” if such “hostile” actions persist.

: President Roh sends a personal message of condolence to the DPRK leader Kim Jong-il over the recent floods. KCNA carries this as its lead item the next day.

: The North asks to postpone the inter-Korean summit, in view of severe flood damage. The South accepts and it is rescheduled for Oct. 2-4.

: MOU says it will send the North emergency flood aid worth $7.5 million this week.

: Second meeting of the SPT Working Group on Nuclear Disarmament is held in Shenyang, China, but fails to reach agreement on disabling DPRK nuclear facilities.

: In his Liberation Day speech, Roh says he will discuss the formation of an inter-Korean economic community with Kim.

: KCNA reports that torrential rain and floods in the past week have caused “huge human and material losses.”

: A preparatory for the summit agrees that Roh will travel to Pyongyang by road across the DMZ. No agenda for the summit is published.

: A sixth round of videolink reunions of separated families is held.

: Both Koreas announce that Roh Moo-hyun will meet Kim Jong-il Aug. 28-30 in Pyongyang.

: The two Koreas briefly exchange gunfire across the DMZ. No one is hurt.

: North Korea pulls out of planned celebrations of Liberation Day (from Japan in 1945) on Aug. 15 in Busan, in protest at routine U.S.-ROK military exercises.

: North Korea proposes a 22nd round of ministerial talks in mid-September in Pyongyang.

: Good Friends (GF), a South Korean Buddhist NGO, which aids the North, calls for 100,000 tons of emergency corn. GF claims that hundreds have died from hunger recently, especially in remote mountainous provinces.

: Hyundai Asan, which runs the Mt. Kumgang resort, says that (subject to Pyongyang’s permission) it will invest $3 billion by 2025 to develop the DPRK’s southeastern coast as far up as the port city of Wonsan.

: Pyeonghwa Motors, a Southern firm (linked to the Unification Church), which assembles cars in Nampo, says it is in talks with Brilliance, a Chinese automaker, to assemble trucks in North Korea. This could change a largely symbolic exercise – annual output is just 700 units – into a serious commercial venture.

: South Korea completes the shipment of 50,000 tons of HFO to the North.

: A Southern team begins a fortnight’s inspection tour of three Northern mines: Komdok, East Asia’s largest zinc mine, and Taehung and Ryongyang, which have the world’s third largest deposits of magnesite.

: ROK Korea International Trade Association (KITA), a private sector group, says that inter-Korean trade in the first half of 2007 rose 28.6 percent year on year to $720 million. In a sign that commercial trade is replacing aid, Northern exports, up 63 percent at $390 million, exceeded those from the South, which fell 9 percent to $330 million.

: Civic leaders from North and South meet at Mt. Kumgang resort to discuss holding joint events celebrating Liberation Day – from Japan, in 1945: a holiday in both Koreas – on Aug. 15.

: South Korea ships a first batch of 500 tons of polyester fiber to the North.

: A sixth round of general-level military talks at Panmunjom ends in rancor when the North walks out over the South’s refusal to countenance redrawing the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the de facto western sea border between the Koreas.

: AP reports that the FBI has charged a U.S.-Korean businessman, Steve Park, with regularly reporting to the ROK government on his frequent business trips to North Korea without registering in the U.S. as an agent of a foreign power.

: South Korea’s Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung makes a three-day visit (his first) to Mt. Kumgang. Besides tourist facilities, his itinerary includes a Southern-aided hospital and village – but no formal talks with Northern counterparts.

: MOU says it has contracted with SK Energy, the ROK’s largest refiner, to supply 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil costing $22 million. The first shipment will be sent to North Korea on July 12.

: MOU says it has contracted with SK Energy, the ROK’s largest refiner, to supply 50,000 tons of HFO costing $22 million. The first shipment will be sent to North Korea on July 12.

: Yonhap quotes MOU as saying that 50,000 tons of its 400,000 tons of rice aid will be sent by rail over five weeks, beginning July 20: 30,000 tons on the western Kyongui line, and 20,000 tons on the east coast Donghae line. Next day Yonhap amends this, substituting road for rail (there are parallel road and rail tracks in each corridor).

: Yonhap quotes MOU as saying that 50,000 tons of its 400,000 tons of rice aid will be sent by rail over five weeks, beginning July 20: 30,000 tons on the western Kyongui line, and 20,000 tons on the east coast Donghae line. Next day Yonhap amends this, substituting road for rail (there are parallel road and rail tracks in each corridor).

: Yonhap reports that the two Koreas will hold working-level military talks at the truce village of Panmunjom on July 10, to pave the way for a resumption of higher level dialogue between each side’s generals.

: Yonhap reports that the two Koreas will hold working-level military talks at the truce village of Panmunjom on July 10, to pave the way for a resumption of higher-level dialogue between each side’s generals.

: After an all-night final session, talks at Gaesong agree on payments for the South to supply light industrial raw materials in exchange for mining rights. Prices of 62 items are agreed, with 32 more still to be settled. North Korea will pay for transport, cargo working, and demurrage costs, while the South will cover shipping and insurance.

: A GNP task force unveils a radical new policy on North Korea, shifting the party’s stance away from containment towards engagement with Pyongyang.

: MOU says South Korea will begin shipping 6,200 tons of heavy fuel oil to the North next week, and that it expects Pyongyang to start shutting down the Yongbyon nuclear reactor once the shipment arrives.

: A GNP task force unveils a radical new policy on North Korea, shifting the party away from containment toward engagement with Pyongyang.

: MOU says South Korea will begin shipping 6,200 tons of heavy fuel oil to the North next week, and that it expects Pyongyang to start shutting down the Yongbyon nuclear reactor once the shipment arrives.

: A North Korean meeting to mark the 35th anniversary of the first inter-Korean joint statement on July 4, 1972, issued by the late presidents Kim Il-sung (DPRK) and Park Chung-hee (ROK), praises this for establishing the “three principles of national reunification: independence, peaceful reunification and great national unity.”

: A North Korean meeting to mark the 35th anniversary of the first inter-Korean joint statement on July 4, 1972, issued by the late Presidents Kim Il-sung (DPRK) and Park Chung-hee (ROK), praises this for establishing the “three principles of national reunification: independence, peaceful reunification and great national unity.”

: Meeting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Pyongyang, Kim Jong-il reportedly says that tensions are easing on the peninsula.

: South Korea says it will provide emergency food aid worth $20 million to North Korea through the WFP, separate from its own bilateral aid. This includes 2,000 tons of corn, 12,000 tons of bean, 5,000 tons of wheat, 2,000 tons of flour, and 1,000 tons of powdered milk. This is the ROK’s first aid to the DPRK via WFP since 2004.

: Following severe flooding, South Korea says it will provide emergency food aid worth $20 million to North Korea through the UN World Food Program (WFP), separate from its own bilateral rice aid. This includes 2,000 tons of corn, 12,000 tons of beans, 5,000 tons of wheat, 2,000 tons of flour and 1,000 tons of powdered milk. This is the ROK’s first aid to the DPRK via WFP since 2004.

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