Chronologies

North Korea - South Korea

Chronology from Sep 2013 to Dec 2013


: MOU says North Korea sent a notice last week to Southern firms invested in the KIC, demanding that they pay tax for the period Jan.1-April 8 this year (i.e., before the North pulled its workers out).

:   MOU retorts that CPRK’s questionnaire “lacks even the basics of mutual respect for its counterpart and is not worthy of our government response…. [We] suspect the reason North Korea is asking such disrespectful questions is to cover up its internal state of confusion.” MOU further accuses the North of “inhumane and unreasonable behavior.”

:   The North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) publishes what it calls an “open questionnaire,” one year after “Park Geun-hye became ‘president’ through fraud-marred election.” As that suggests, CPRK has its own answers: “Park’s policy surpasses that of the Lee [Myung-bak] regime in its crafty and vicious nature.”

: The ROK’s Statistics Korea publishes comparative data for the two Koreas in 2012. The South’s Gross National Income (GNI) of $1.21 trillion was 38.2 times the North’s, or 18.7 times on a per capita basis as Southern population of 50 million is twice the North’s. ROK trade volume of $1.07 trillion was 157 times the DPRK’s $6.8 billion; its exports of $548 billion are 189 times bigger (these figures exclude North-South trade). The South’s power generating capacity of 81.8 million kilowatts a year is 11.3 times larger than the North’s, but the latter produced 10 times more coal (25.8 million tons.)

: At the fourth meeting of the KIC joint committee, the South suggests holding an “investment expo,” postponed from October, at end-January. A 30-strong delegation of attendees at a G20 meeting in Seoul, plus reporters, visits the zone the same day.

: Another long KCNA diatribe against Jang reports his trial by a military court and swift dispatch, under the terse headline “Traitor Jang Song Thaek Executed.”

: Reporting an “enlarged meeting” of the WPK Central Committee Politburo, in a lengthy indictment alleging a multitude of both major and petty sins, KCNA confirms that Jang Song Thaek has been purged for “anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts”

: Kaesong sub-panel on communications fails to agree on connecting the KIC to the Internet. MOU admits this is the first time the issue, which the South first tabled in Sept., has even been discussed; earlier meetings were confined to administrative issues.

: South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) tells an emergency briefing of an NA committee that Jang Song Thaek – the uncle-in-law of Kim Jong Un, who played a key role in his nephew’s rise and succession – has been purged.

: Fourth KIC sub-panel finally meets for first time in over two months. MOU says agenda includes use of mobile phones and the Internet, plus radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.

: MOU urges Pyongyang to stop insulting President Park Geun-hye: “If vulgar expressions used by the North [were] applied to the North’s leader in the same manner, how [would] they respond to it? The North should think about this.” Interestingly, the Chinese newsagency Xinhua carries this report and quotation.

: Accords signed on a one-day visit to Seoul by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin include a Memorandum of Understanding allowing three ROK firms to buy almost half of Russia’s 70 percent stake in RasonKonTrans.

: Three sub-panels at the KIC meet for the first time since September. No date is yet set for the fourth sub-panel, covering travel and communications issues.

: KCNA lambastes South Korea’s mild reaction to the issue of potential eavesdropping by the US National Security Agency (NSA) under the headline “Servile Attitude of Political Waiting Maid.”

: In an interview with the French daily Figaro, President Park Geun-hye, on a state visit to France, says she can meet Kim Jong Un “at any time, if necessary, for the development of inter-Korean relations or peace.” MOU says that this is not a policy change.

: Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae tells ROK lawmakers that the government is “weighing various considerations” about lifting the ‘May 24 measures,’ the usual name for the ban on all non-KIC commerce with the North imposed on that date in 2010. However on Nov. 4 MOU says the administration is not reviewing the lifting of these sanctions right now.

: A cross-party group of 21 ROK lawmakers plus 26 support staff spends the day at the KIC. Working-level DPRK officials escort them, but nobody senior is on hand.

: Yonhap quotes unidentified “public safety authorities” as saying the six South Koreans returned on Oct. 25 had all entered the North illegally via China between 2009 and 2012 in hopes of a welcome and a better life. Instead they were kept in detention for up to four years before being handed back.

: Pyongyang tells Seoul that Cho Myung-chul, a defector from the North who is now a lawmaker of the South’s Saenuri Party, may not join the group visit to the KIC.

: Six male South Koreans aged between 27 and 67, plus the body of the wife of one, are returned by the North at Panmunjom and are at once whisked off for questioning.

: Chung Hee-soo, a lawmaker of the Saenuri Party, says that the military reckon DPRK cyber-attacks since 2009 have caused damage worth $805 million.

: Yonhap notes that since late September DPRK media have begun a new campaign of verbal attacks on President Park Geun-hye.

: South Korea’s Defense Ministry (MND) says the remains of Sohn Dong-shik, an ROK army sergeant captured in the Korean War but who (like thousands of others) was never repatriated, have arrived in South Korea.

: KIC’s new 13-strong secretariat – 8 from the South, 5 from the North – begins work, providing support to the joint committee and four sub-panels under the zone’s revised management structure.

: Without giving any reason, the North postpones a meeting of the key KIC sub-panel on communications and travel scheduled for the next day.

: MOU publishes a five-year plan to foster inter-Korean trust-building and “a small form of unification.” The latter apparently means only various bilateral programs. Nuclear disarmament, human rights and other thorny issues are absent.

: MOU says the South still has no plan to discuss resuming tourism to Mount Kumgang. Anger at this is thought to be one reason why the North canceled family reunions.

: Pyongyang abruptly postpones what would have been the first reunions of separated families, due to start four days later. The CPRK accuses Seoul of abusing bilateral dialogue as a “tool for confrontation.” South Korea denounces the cancellation as inhumane.

: Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea’s first vice foreign minister and former nuclear negotiator, tells a multilateral forum in Beijing on the tenth anniversary of the start of nuclear Six Party Talks (6PT) that the DPRK is ready to resume the talks “without preconditions.”

: Kaesong complex partially reopens. MOU says 90 of the 123 ROK firms invested there began trial operations. 739 Southern managers and technicians workers enter the zone; 459 stay on overnight.

: The third meeting of the new KIC joint management committee agrees to hold an investor relations (IR) event for foreign companies on Oct. 31. This is later cancelled.

: After all four junior South Korean weightlifters at an Asian competition held in Pyongyang win medals, the ROK flag is raised and its national anthem played for the first time ever in the DPRK. State TV identifies and shows the flag, briefly. (See Sept. 6).

: South Korea, or strictly the United Nations Command (UNC), returns to the North via Panmunjom in the DMZ the body of a Korean Peoples’ Army (KPA) soldier recovered in the Bukhan River on July 31, having been swept downstream by floods. This is the 10th such return of a corpse since 2007.

: After talks that run on overnight, the second meeting of the new Kaesong joint management committee agrees that the KIC will reopen the following week: initially on a “trial basis” on Sept. 16. Further meetings will be held to thrash out concrete details.

: After talks that run on overnight, the second meeting of the new Kaesong joint management committee agrees that the KIC will reopen the following week: initially on a “trial basis” on Sept. 16. Further meetings will be held to thrash out details.

: A test call at 1015 local time confirms that the west coast military hotline is now working again, as agreed the previous day.

: A test call at 10:15 local time confirms that the west coast military hotline is working again, as agreed the previous day.

: In its first comment on the Lee Seok-ki case, the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) denounces any attempt to link it to the arraigned far-left Southern lawmaker as an “unpardonable provocation.”

: MOU says it will allow a 41-strong delegation of 22 weightlifters plus coaches and officials to head North on Sept. 10 for the 2013 Asian Cup and Interclub Weightlifting Championship on Sept. 11-17.

: The other two new KIC sub-committees – on passage, communications and customs, and guaranteeing personal safety – meet at the zone, with both chairmen of the full joint committee (Kim Ki-woong (ROK) and Park Chol Su (DPRK)) attending. They agree to restore the military hotline used to liaise on traffic across the DMZ, which the North cut in March.

: The other two new KIC sub-committees – on passage, communications and customs, and guaranteeing personal safety – meet at the zone. They agree to restore the military hotline used to liaise on traffic across the DMZ, which the North cut in March, at 0900 next day.

: MOU reports that the two Koreas are at odds over lodgings for the upcoming family reunions. The South suspects the North is cross at its refusal to discuss resumption of actual tourism until October, after the reunions.

: Two sub-committees of the new KIC management structure, on investment protection and global competitiveness, are held at the complex. Details are not formally published, but MOU reveals that the former agreed to establish a panel to arbitrate disputes and damages (first called for in 2003), while the latter will discuss how to have KIC-made products included in FTAs (presumably the ROK’s, and arguably a sticky wicket.)

: Organizers of the 2018 Winter Olympics say it would be “impossible,” legally and logistically, to divide skiing events between the host city, Pyeongchang in South Korea, and the planned Masik Pass ski resort in North Korea as suggested by the DPRK’s Chung Ang. Inter alia the two sites are some 300 km apart, across (obviously) mountainous terrain.

: By 258 votes to 14, the ROK NA approves the arrest of Rep. Lee Seok-ki, who faces charges of conspiring to mount an insurrection.

: Two sub-committees of the new KIC management structure, on investment protection and global competitiveness, convene at the complex. Details are not published, but MOU says the former agreed to set up a panel to arbitrate disputes and damages, while the latter will discuss how to have KIC-made products included in free trade agreements.

: 29 South Koreans, mostly Hyundai Asan staff, cross the DMZ into the Mount Kumgang resort. They are the first Southerners to overnight there since the North expelled the last Hyundai maintenance staff in August 2011, having confiscated Southern assets worth 480 billion won. On Sept. 4, 19 others join them. Most of the 48 are expected to remain until family reunions are held at the end of the month.

: South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) reports to the National Assembly (NA) that the North’s nuclear program “was at a developmental and experimental stage till 2010, but it has developed into a real threat in 2013 that can actually be weaponized and used at any time.”

: 29 South Koreans, mostly Hyundai Asan staff, cross the DMZ into the Mount Kumgang resort. On Sept. 4, 19 others join them.

: Voice of America (VoA) quotes a DPRK member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Chang Ung, as suggesting that the Masik Pass ski resort, a flagship new project under construction near Wonsan, “could possibly hold Olympic events.”

: 615 businessmen and technicians from ROK firms invested in the KIC make a day trip across the DMZ to check on their facilities and work with their DPRK employees to prepare for the complex’s reopening. Next day a further group of 560 does the same.

: MOU says South Korea will give humanitarian aid worth $6.3 million to the North via the World Health Organization (WHO). This will go to train healthcare workers, help repair medical facilities and provide essential drugs. Seoul also permits 12 civic groups to send aid worth 2.35 billion won ($2.13 million) for 13 different projects in the North.

: The new joint committee to manage the KIC holds its first meeting, lasting 12 hours. No date to reopen the complex is set, but sub-committees will meet later this week and the full committee is to reconvene on Sept. 10. Its agenda then will include compensation for Southern investors, who claim losses totalling 1.05 trillion won ($954 million).

: 615 businessmen and technicians from South Korean companies invested in the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) make a day trip across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to check on their facilities and work with their Northern employees to prepare for the complex’s reopening. Next day another of 560 does the same.

: Unification Ministry (MOU) says South Korea will give aid worth $6.3 million to the North via the World Health Organization (WHO), to train healthcare workers, help repair medical facilities, and provide essential drugs. Seoul also permits 12 civic groups to send aid worth 2.35 billion won ($2.13 million) for 13 different projects in the North.

: The new joint committee to manage the KIC holds first meeting, lasting 12 hours. No date to reopen the complex is set, but sub-committees will meet later this week and the full committee will reconvene Sept. 10. Its agenda will include compensation for Southern investors, who claim losses totaling 1.05 trillion won ($954 million).

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