Chronologies

North Korea - South Korea

Chronology


: Maj. Gen Kim Do-gyun, MND’s point man on inter-Korean affairs, is promoted to three stars—but also taken off the case. From next week he becomes chief of the Capital Defense Command. Kim led the ROK side in 2018’s inter-Korean military talks. The report does not state who will replace him on the North Korea beat at MND.

: US-led United Nations Command (UNC) says it is conducting “a full investigation” into May 3 border shooting incident. It was reportedly unable to enter the Northern side of the DMZ. Pyongyang has still offered no explanation, much less apology.

: South Korea’s Unification Minister visits the DMZ. Kim Yeon-chul’s trip to Panmunjom (nowhere near Cheorwon) is to assess preparations for the planned resumption of tourism there, suspended since last year’s outbreak of African swine fever.

: ROK MND says Pyongyang has not yet offered any explanation for yesterday’s gunfire incident at the DMZ.

: Yonhap says that the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP), an ROK state think-tank, is proposing that South Korea sign a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with North Korea, “to accelerate reform … and to help it integrate into the international market.” (KIEP’s homepage lists a report with this date, but in factpublished last December—so it is unclear what exactly is new here.)

: South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) report that at about 0741 Northern gunfire struck a guardpost at Cheorwon in the central part of the peninsula, leaving four bullet holes. Following procedure, the ROKA reacted with broadcast warnings, followed by two bursts of return fire (10 rounds each). Though a clear breach of 2018’s inter-Korean military agreement, Seoul reckons the North did not intend a provocation. The JCS noted that “it was quite foggy and the North Korean soldiers usually rotate shifts around that time,”

: Yonhap cites an unnamed Blue House official as denying that Kim Jong Un has undergone any kind of medical procedure.

: Kim Jong Un reappears. Flanked by most of the top DPRK leadership, he cuts a ribbon to open the Sunchon Phosphatic Fertilizer Factory, some 50 miles north of Pyongyang. NKNews notes a new mark on his wrist, which could indicate a minor cardiac procedure.

: Reiterating the ROK’s consistent stance, Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul denounces reports that Kim Jong Un is gravely ill as “fake news,” and deplores what he calls an “infodemic” of speculation on the subject.

: MOU releases mid-term plan for developing inter-Korean relations. Ideas include a joint event in June to mark the 20th anniversary of the first inter-Korean summit. There is no sign that Pyongyang is interested.

: South Korea designates a planned 111-km railway, running north from the east coast port city Gangneung to Jejin near the DMZ, as an inter-Korean project. This means reconstruction can proceed without the normal feasibility study.

: MOU approves an unnamed NGO’s plan to send 20,000 items of protective clothing worth $162,000 to help North Korea combat COVID-19. No more details are given.

: Daily NK, a Seoul-based online journal run by activists and defectors with sources inside North Korea, alleges that Kim Jong Un is recovering after heart surgery. It later modifies that to “a cardiovascular procedure.” (Unlike other media, Daily NK does not claim that Kim is gravely ill, much less dead.) This report intensifies worldwide media speculation.

: Various South Korean government sources insist that all is normal in the North. Seoul firmly maintains that line, damping down speculation about Kim’s health.

: MOU reports that the number of North Koreans visiting the South fell from 809 in 2018 to zero in 2019 as relations chilled. 9,835 South Koreans visited the North. If commuting by ROK staff at the joint liaison office in Kaesong is excluded, the figure drops to 576: sharply down from 4,612 in 2018.

: Reiterating its determination to facilitate individual tourism to North Korea, MOU adds that this is subject to progress in tackling the coronavirus.

: Customary celebrations of “Sun’s Day”—Kim Il Sung’s birthday—in Pyongyang are scaled down, presumably due to COVID-19 concerns. Unprecedentedly, Kim Jong Un is not present.

: Four-yearly parliamentary elections in South Korea see a swing to Moon’s ruling Democratic Party (DP), giving it an overall majority in the National Assembly for the first time. Two North Korean defectors win seats for the conservative opposition, including former diplomat Thae Yong-ho (now Tae Ku-min), who is elected in Gangnam.

: DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), North Korea’s rubber-stamp Parliament, holds its annual spring session—two days late, without explanation. The agenda includes the usual economic and budget reports, as always with no hard numbers. Kim Jong Un, who is no longer an SPA deputy, does not attend this year.

: Kim Jong Un chairs Politburo meeting of the Central Committee (CC) of the ruling Workers’ Party (WP). Thereafter Kim is unseen until May 1, which sparks external speculation about his health and whereabouts.

: MOU predicts—correctly, it turns out, suggesting good intelligence sources in Pyongyang—that coronavirus concerns may prompt North Korea to streamline its upcoming parliamentary meeting (see April 12) by having deputies register on the day—rather than the usual 1-2 days in advance, followed by paying homage at the Kims’ mausoleum and the like.

: MOU says it will give aid worth $5.73 million to the DPRK via international agencies this year. This comprises $4 million to the World Health Organization (WHO) for women and children, announced in December, and $1.73 million through the Red Cross to help typhoon recovery efforts. Seoul’s contribution is much the largest within the global total of $9.43 million in aid to North Korea pledged this year. MOU also okays an unnamed NGO’s plan to supply hand sanitizers worth $81,000 to North Korea to help fend off COVID-19, the first such private aid this year.

: Despite Pyongyang’s threat a day earlier to stop negotiating with the US, MOU reiterates Seoul’s readiness to assist a resumption of long-stalled denuclearization talks.

: ROK’s Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Council (IKECPC) approves spending 688 million won ($565,000) to create a digital archive of relics unearthed when, for a decade starting in 2007, the two Koreas jointly excavated Manwoldae palace near Kaesong, which was Korea’s capital during the Koryo dynasty (918-1392).

:  North Korea fires what appear to be two short-range ballistic missiles toward the East Sea.

: At a memorial ceremony at the ROK Navy’s 2nd Fleet Command in Pyeongtaek on the 10th anniversary of the sinking of the frigate Cheonan, with 46 lives lost, Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo says, “We should protect the Northern Limit Line (NLL, the de facto inter-Korean maritime border) all the more tightly to make sure past sorrows such as the Cheonan attack never are repeated, and establish North Korea’s denuclearization and the Korean Peninsula’s lasting peace.” Pyongyang has always denied responsibility.

: Seoul says South Korean NGOs can get government financial support for coronavirus-related aid projects in North Korea if they have an agreement with Pyongyang. Two days later, though, MOU nixes a bid by the local administration in Gyeonggi province (which surrounds Seoul) to send masks and test kits worth 1.2 billion won ($980,000), saying that this “failed to meet the requirements.”

: A day after Kim Yo Jong reveals that Trump offered to assist Pyongyang in combating the coronavirus, Seoul repeats its call for the two Koreas to work together on this: “from the perspective of humanitarian and mutually beneficial cooperation … closely related to the right to health and survival of the people of both countries.”

: Seoul renews its call for the two Koreas to cooperate in fighting COVID-19.

:  North Korea fires two projectiles presumed to be short-range ballistic missiles toward the East Sea.

: MOU licenses two border cities, Paju and Goyang, to operate independent humanitarian aid projects in North Korea. Four other local governments—Seoul and Incheon cities, and South Chungcheong and Gyeonggi provinces (but see March 24 below)—already have such permission. This is all somewhat notional, given Pyongyang’s non-cooperation.

: In two statements on successive days, MOU pours cold water on calls for the KIC to be reopened to produce face masks, in short supply in the South. The ministry notes that, among other obstacles, North Korea has completely closed its borders as an anti-coronavirus measure.

: North Korea again test-fires projectiles (three, this time) into the East Sea. South Korea again remonstrates. Two further tests follow on March 20 and 28—making this the DPRK’s busiest ever month for missile launches, with a total of nine projectiles fired.

: Conservative daily Chosun Ilbo claims that Kim’s letter to Moon asked for help fighting the coronavirus, and that Moon responded positively. MOU denies this, insisting that the North has not requested any such assistance.

: The Inter-Korean Unification Party (IKUP), the first political party formed by North Korean defectors in the South, is officially launched in Seoul. Its program is to liberate the North from autocracy and promote defector rights in the South. It goes on to gain a paltry 10,833 votes in April 15’s elections. (See also February 18 above.)

: After an ROK TV channel aired footage of a DPRK medical worker wearing a dental mask with the logo of a Southern brand, Seoul denies that South Korea has provided any facemasks to North Korea.

: Blue House says Kim Jong Un has sent Moon a personal letter, delivered the previous day. Expressing “quiet support” for South Korea’s fight against the coronavirus, and solicitude for Moon’s health, Kim assures Moon of “his constant friendship and trust.” Kim also gives his “frank” thoughts about the situation on the peninsula; these are not revealed.

: Spokesman says the Blue House is “prudently” analyzing Kim Yo Jong’s diatribe, and does not plan to respond formally. MOU calls for “mutual respect” between the two Koreas.

: DPRK website Uriminzokkiri attacks ROK movies and dramas for “anti-republic” fabrications. No names are mentioned. Ironically, the TV drama “Crash Landing on You,” all the rage, is widely seen in the South as giving a favorable portrayal of the North—and criticized on that count by some conservatives.

: In her first ever statement published in her name, Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong lambastes Seoul’s criticism of the North’s strike drills as (among much else) shocking, senseless, imbecile, and like a frightened dog: “Such incoherent assertion and actions made by Chongwadae only magnify our distrust, hatred and scorn for the south side as a whole.”

: MOU says South Korea will prepare to expand cooperation with the North in health and related fields. A day later the ministry notes that inter-Korean cooperation on healthcare is a key focus of its annual policy plan, recently delivered to the Blue House. Other goals—easier said than done—include a push for individual tourism to North Korea, and transform the DMZ into a peace zone.

: North Korea test-fires two short-range projectiles, for the first time this year. After holding an emergency videoconference of security chiefs, the Blue House expresses “strong concern” and, in notably mild terms, urges the North to halt acts that are “not helpful to efforts to ease military tensions on the Korean peninsula.”

: On the 101st anniversary of an historic uprising against Japanese occupation, and with coronavirus cases rising fast, Moon calls for international cooperation to fight the virus, including with North Korea and Japan: “The March 1 Independence Movement once again reminds us that we can prevail over anything as long as we stand together.”

: DPRK website Uriminzokkiri scorns Moon’s outreach to Japan, accusing him of “begging for more frequent meetings” with Prime Minister Abe Shinzo.

: Reacting to news that North Korea’s former diplomat Thae Yong-ho will stand for the conservative United Future Party (UFP) in South Korea’s parliamentary election on April 15, the DPRK website Meari renews allegations against Thae (first made in 2016) of embezzlement and rape. It adds: “Driving these scums (sic) to the forefront of confrontation between the two Koreas is an intolerable challenge to our nation’s desire for unification.”

: A poll of 3,000 Northern defectors (almost 10% of the total, 33,523) by Hana, a state foundation which aids their resettlement, finds that 17.2% experienced discrimination last year: slightly less than the 2018 figure of 20.2%.

: The magazine DPRK Today attacks ROK Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha for what it calls the “spineless act” of discussing North Korean denuclearization with US and Japanese counterparts at the recent Munich Security Conference: “There are still fools asking for subservience and humiliation … oblivious to the bitter lesson history has taught us.”

: With coronavirus cases spiking in South Korea, MOU says it will postpone the resumption of tourism to Panmunjom, scheduled to begin on February 26-28.

: In a rare if backhanded compliment, Choson Sinbo, the newspaper of pro-DPRK ethnic North Koreans in Japan, praises the Oscar-winning ROK film Parasite as a “masterpiece” for laying bare the problem of class warfare, and “clearly revealing the reality in which a small number of the wealthy dominates the absolute majority.” This is the movie’s first mention in any DPRK-related media.

: Seoul says the ROK will consider any requests from international agencies to help Pyongyang fight COVID-19, provided it is formally asked to assist.

: Meeting in Seoul, some 200 North Korean defectors launch a preparatory committee to establish their first-ever political party. (See also March 6, below.)

: MOU says Pyongyang has made no response to calls for the KIC to reopen.

: North Korea finally mentions South Korea’s push for individual tourism to the North—but not favorably. DPRK Today attacks Seoul for seeking US approval for this plan.

: The DPRK website Uriminzokkiri denounces the Liberty Korea Party (LKP), the main ROK conservative opposition party, for recruiting two prominent defectors from North Korea to run as its candidates in forthcoming parliamentary elections in April.

: MOU insists that individual tourism to North Korea by South Koreans is not a matter for consultation with Washington, as this is not banned under UN sanctions.

: Four years after South Korea’s then President Park Geun-hye abruptly closed the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), the last inter-Korean joint venture, business persons with investments there hold a rally in Seoul. Urging that the zone be reopened, they ask the government to deliver a letter asking North Korea to let them visit and prepare for reopening. Separately, MOU reiterates its own (more abstract) view that the KIC should reopen when conditions are right.

: At a forum in Pyeongchang, Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul reaffirms the need to push for inter-Korean cooperation in railways, roads and tourism.

: MND clarifies that despite otherwise stalled relations, inter-Korean military hotlines are working normally. The two sides communicate twice daily, at 0900 and 1600, plus additionally as circumstances require. MND reiterates this message on April 27.

: MOU says that in weighing the possibility of individual tourism to North Korea, it is “taking the issue of the new coronavirus into consideration.”

: ROK defense ministry (MND) insists that, contra assertions in local media, the inter-Korean Comprehensive Military Agreement signed in September 2018 does not bar or restrict joint US-ROK military exercises, including near the DMZ.

: Via the new inter-Korean phone line (see Jan. 30), Pyongyang notifies Seoul that, because of coronavirus concerns, it is suspending plans to remove South Korean-built facilities at the Mount Kumgang resort on its east coast.

: In a rare meeting at the now largely idle joint liaison office at Kaesong, North and South Korea agree to temporarily close the facility, due to concerns about the new Wuhan coronavirus strain. All 58 South Koreans working there—17 officials and 41 support staff—return home across the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) the same day. MOU says the two Koreas will set up new telephone and fax lines to maintain contact during the suspension.

: MOU says that 1,048 North Korean defectors arrived in the South in 2019, the lowest figure in 18 years. As usual, females (845) outnumbered males (202). After peaking at 2,904 in 2009, since Kim Jong Un took power in 2011 numbers have fallen to below 1,500 annually.

: A day after US Ambassador to the ROK Harry Harris says Seoul should consult Washington on any plans to engage Pyongyang, MOU retorts that “Our policy with regard to North Korea comes under our sovereignty.”

: Citing unspecified ROK government sources, Yonhap says North Korea has again demanded that the South remove its facilities at Mount Kumgang. (But see January 31.)

: Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul affirms that Seoul will look at ways to improve relations with Pyongyang without waiting for progress in US-DPRK talks. The same day his ministry says it is looking at “various formats” to allow South Koreans to visit Mount Kumgang. A day later MOU adds: “We are making a list of what we can do on our own [in terms of joint projects with North Korea] with regard to inter-Korean relations”

: Moon at his New Year’s press conference insists that it is premature “to be pessimistic about South-North dialogue and North Korea-US dialogue.” Despite admitting that now is “not a stage to be optimistic” either, Moon says he will keep pushing to expand inter-Korean cooperation with an “optimistic prospect.” He adds that such cooperation could help build momentum for easing sanctions against Pyongyang.

: In a thinly veiled criticism of Moon’s push for individual tourism to Mount Kumgang, the US State Department insists that Washington and Seoul are committed to a unified approach toward Pyongyang.

: Reacting to the above, North Korea’s ex-nuclear negotiator Kim Kye Gwan, now an adviser to DPRK foreign ministry, chides “the excited south Korean authorities” for their “lingering hope for playing the role of ‘mediator’ in the DPRK-US relations,” which he calls “presumptuous … meddling.” He warns Seoul it “had better not dream a fabulous dream that we would return to the dialogue with thankful feelings for the birthday greetings.”

: NK News reports MOU as saying that Seoul is considering how to make it easier for South Koreans to visit the North—including, potentially, being issued DPRK visas. The spokesperson added: “It is our consistent stance that sanctions against North Korea [do] not apply to independent tours.” He added that North and South are “in discussions” on the resumption of tourism, while admitting “differences in stance” and continued concerns.

: Fresh back from Washington DC, where he briefly met President Trump, Chung Eui-yong, head of the Blue House (Cheong Wa Dae) national security office, says that the US president asked President Moon to wish Kim Jong Un a happy birthday on his behalf. (The DPRK leader turned 36—probably—on Jan. 8.) Chung adds that the birthday greeting was duly delivered, but does not reveal how it was transmitted.

: MOU tells NK News that, despite the impasse in inter-Korean ties, it approved 612 contacts with North Korea last year, down 15% from 707 in 2018. A larger fall might have been expected, but these data are only for applications by South Koreans to meet, phone, fax, or email the North. They do not necessarily imply that such contact actually took place.

: President Moon Jae-in delivers his New Year’s Address. Unlike Kim, Moon has much to say about inter-Korean relations. Regretting the current impasse, but not blaming the North, he reiterates his commitment to cooperation across the board, and also to realizing Kim’s long-promised visit to South Korea. He does not mention the nuclear issue.

: Seoul announces what it calls a major restructuring of MOU. This will create a new division within the ministry’s Office of Exchange and Cooperation to handle border cooperation issues, such as turning the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) into a “global peace zone.” The ROK Cabinet duly approves the reorganization on February 4.

: The Wall Street Journal reports that US diplomats intervened with Vietnamese authorities in December to prevent 13 North Korean refugees—two of whom had attempted suicide—from being repatriated to Pyongyang. The ROK government denies allegations that it had been reluctant to assist. The 13 are said now to be safe in an undisclosed location.

: Yonhap, the quasi-official ROK news agency, quotes the Unification Ministry (MOU) as saying that, given Kim’s silence about South Korea in his recent speech, Seoul is “closely watching” whether Pyongyang plans to issue a separate message about inter-Korean relations. This stance of watching and waiting is reiterated on January 7. The South waits in vain: no message is forthcoming from the North.

: Official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and other DPRK media publish reports on the just-concluded WPK CC Plenary. From these lengthy summaries (circa 3,000 words), it seems that Kim Jong Un, unprecedentedly, made no mention of South Korea or inter-Korean relations. (This is usually the topic of a substantial section of his New Year address; see past issues of Comparative Connections.)

: South Korea urges the North not to carry out Kim Jong Un’s threat to test a “new strategic weapon,” as this “would not help denuclearization negotiations and efforts to build peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

:  MOU says that with official North-South ties deadlocked, it will encourage members of separated families to pursue private contacts with their Northern kin. This includes offering government financial support for meetings in third countries.Aug. 27, 2019: MOU admits that while “it would be great to hold joint events”, South Korea will mark the first anniversary on Sept. 19 of the Pyongyang inter-Korean summit without North Korea’s participation. Nor has the North been notified of the South’s planned events.

:  MOU says that with official North-South ties deadlocked, it will encourage members of separated families to pursue private contacts with their Northern kin. This includes offering government financial support for meetings in third countries.

:  MOU says that with official North-South ties deadlocked, it will encourage members of separated families to pursue private contacts with their Northern kin. This includes offering government financial support for meetings in third countries.Aug. 27, 2019: MOU admits that while “it would be great to hold joint events”, South Korea will mark the first anniversary on Sept. 19 of the Pyongyang inter-Korean summit without North Korea’s participation. Nor has the North been notified of the South’s planned events.

:  North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party (WPK) holds a major meeting: the 5th Plenary of the 7th Central Committee (CC). Kim Jong Un gives a wide-ranging and hard-line speech, lasting seven hours. (In view of this, Kim does not deliver his customary New Year address.) Personnel changes are announced, while others apparently go unannounced.

: North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party (WPK) holds a major meeting: the 5th Plenary of the 7th Central Committee (CC). Kim Jong Un gives a wideranging and hardline speech, lasting seven hours. (In view of this, Kim does not deliver his customary New Year address.) Personnel changes are announced, while others apparently go unannounced.

:  North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party (WPK) holds a major meeting: the 5th Plenary of the 7th Central Committee (CC). Kim Jong Un gives a wide-ranging and hard-line speech, lasting seven hours. (In view of this, Kim does not deliver his customary New Year address.) Personnel changes are announced, while others apparently go unannounced.

:  North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party (WPK) holds a major meeting: the 5th Plenary of the 7th Central Committee (CC). Kim Jong Un gives a wide-ranging and hard-line speech, lasting seven hours. (In view of this, Kim does not deliver his customary New Year address.) Personnel changes are announced, while others apparently go unannounced.

:  ROK Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul calls on the US and DPRK to first pursue “an interim deal as a stepping stone to a final agreement,” in order to keep nuclear dialogue alive.

:  ROK Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul calls on the US and DPRK to first pursue “an interim deal as a stepping stone to a final agreement,” in order to keep nuclear dialogue alive.

:  ROK Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul calls on the US and DPRK to first pursue “an interim deal as a stepping stone to a final agreement,” in order to keep nuclear dialogue alive.

:  In melancholy Christmas news, Yonhap tallies statistics on South Koreans who registered with MOU and the ROK Red Cross in the hope of meeting their relatives in North Korea. Of 133,365 who signed up since 1988, only 52,997 were still alive at end-November. With 63.4 percent of the survivors aged 80 or more, this attrition by mortality will continue.

:  An online poll by Seoul Metropolitan Government finds that 74.2 percent of residents of the ROK capital (in a sample of 2,000) believe that the two Koreas should be reunified. That percentage is the same as last year. But 17 percent also reckon reunification is impossible; whereas 25.6 percent anticipate it in 20 years, while 20.2 percent say 30 years. On inter-Korean ties, a perhaps surprising 39.5 percent expect relations to improve in the next five years; 12.4 percent say they will worsen, while most (48.2 percent) expect no change.

:  In melancholy Christmas news, Yonhap tallies statistics on South Koreans who registered with MOU and the ROK Red Cross in the hope of meeting their relatives in North Korea. Of 133,365 who signed up since 1988, only 52,997 were still alive at end-November. With 63.4 percent of the survivors aged 80 or more, this attrition by mortality will continue.

:  An online poll by Seoul Metropolitan Government finds that 74.2 percent of residents of the ROK capital (in a sample of 2,000) believe that the two Koreas should be reunified. That percentage is the same as last year. But 17 percent also reckon reunification is impossible; whereas 25.6 percent anticipate it in 20 years, while 20.2 percent say 30 years. On inter-Korean ties, a perhaps surprising 39.5 percent expect relations to improve in the next five years; 12.4 percent say they will worsen, while most (48.2 percent) expect no change.

:  In melancholy Christmas news, Yonhap tallies statistics on South Koreans who registered with MOU and the ROK Red Cross in the hope of meeting their relatives in North Korea. Of 133,365 who signed up since 1988, only 52,997 were still alive at end-November. With 63.4 percent of the survivors aged 80 or more, this attrition by mortality will continue.

:  An online poll by Seoul Metropolitan Government finds that 74.2 percent of residents of the ROK capital (in a sample of 2,000) believe that the two Koreas should be reunified. That percentage is the same as last year. But 17 percent also reckon reunification is impossible; whereas 25.6 percent anticipate it in 20 years, while 20.2 percent say 30 years. On inter-Korean ties, a perhaps surprising 39.5 percent expect relations to improve in the next five years; 12.4 percent say they will worsen, while most (48.2 percent) expect no change.

:  South Korea’s inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Council (IKECPC) approves aid worth 2 billion won ($1.72 million), to be sent via the Red Cross to assist North Korean villages hit by typhoons earlier this year. Yonhap admits it is unclear whether or not Pyongyang will accept Seoul’s assistance.

:  South Korea’s inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Council (IKECPC) approves aid worth 2 billion won ($1.72 million), to be sent via the Red Cross to assist North Korean villages hit by typhoons earlier this year. Yonhap admits it is unclear whether or not Pyongyang will accept Seoul’s assistance.

:  South Korea’s inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Council (IKECPC) approves aid worth 2 billion won ($1.72 million), to be sent via the Red Cross to assist North Korean villages hit by typhoons earlier this year. Yonhap admits it is unclear whether or not Pyongyang will accept Seoul’s assistance.

:  MOU rejects as “fake news” claims by a defector body in Seoul that the two Northern fishermen repatriated last month (see Nov. 7) were not murderers, as the ROK government claimed, but brokers who tried to help their 16 fellow crew members defect.

:  MOU rejects as “fake news” claims by a defector body in Seoul that the two Northern fishermen repatriated last month (see Nov. 7) were not murderers, as the ROK government claimed, but brokers who tried to help their 16 fellow crew members defect.

:  MOU rejects as “fake news” claims by a defector body in Seoul that the two Northern fishermen repatriated last month (see Nov. 7) were not murderers, as the ROK government claimed, but brokers who tried to help their 16 fellow crew members defect.

:  ROK Vice Unification Minister Suh Ho visits the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong, to be briefed on the past year’s work and plans for 2020. That will not have taken long, for the office is practically idle. Suh has not met with his DPRK counterpart and co-head since the US-DPRK summit in Hanoi collapsed in February.

:  ROK Vice Unification Minister Suh Ho visits the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong, to be briefed on the past year’s work and plans for 2020. That will not have taken long, for the office is practically idle. Suh has not met with his DPRK counterpart and co-head since the US-DPRK summit in Hanoi collapsed in February.

:  ROK Vice Unification Minister Suh Ho visits the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong, to be briefed on the past year’s work and plans for 2020. That will not have taken long, for the office is practically idle. Suh has not met with his DPRK counterpart and co-head since the US-DPRK summit in Hanoi collapsed in February.

:  A propos moves to ease some sanctions on North Korea (see Dec. 16 above), MOU emphasises that “the inter-Korean railway connection project is … a non-commercial public infrastructure project.” However, Seoul does not formally endorse the proposal by Beijing and Seoul as such.

:  A propos moves to ease some sanctions on North Korea (see Dec. 16 above), MOU emphasises that “the inter-Korean railway connection project is … a non-commercial public infrastructure project.” However, Seoul does not formally endorse the proposal by Beijing and Seoul as such.

:  A propos moves to ease some sanctions on North Korea (see Dec. 16 above), MOU emphasises that “the inter-Korean railway connection project is … a non-commercial public infrastructure project.” However, Seoul does not formally endorse the proposal by Beijing and Seoul as such.

:  MOU says the ROK will continue to try to give the DPRK 50,000 tons of rice via the UN World Food Program (WFP), despite Pyongyang’s repeated rejection of this plan (first mooted in June). The budget for this, almost $35 million, will be rolled over to 2020.

:  MOU says the ROK will continue to try to give the DPRK 50,000 tons of rice via the UN World Food Program (WFP), despite Pyongyang’s repeated rejection of this plan (first mooted in June). The budget for this, almost $35 million, will be rolled over to 2020.

:  MOU says the ROK will continue to try to give the DPRK 50,000 tons of rice via the UN World Food Program (WFP), despite Pyongyang’s repeated rejection of this plan (first mooted in June). The budget for this, almost $35 million, will be rolled over to 2020.

:  Human Rights Watch (HRW) publishes a letter to President Moon Jae-in from 67 human rights-related NGOs, criticising the ROK for “increasing disengagement with (sic) ongoing human rights violations by the…DPRK.” This cites the Nov. 7 repatriation of two would-be defectors, as well as Seoul’s “baffl[ing]” decision a week later not to sponsor the annual UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution on North Korea’s human rights situation. The letter is also signed by ten individuals, including both the current UN Special Rapporteur on DPRK human rights, Tomás Ojea Quintana, and his predecessor Marzuki Darusman.

:  Reuters reports that China and Russia have circulated a joint draft resolution to the UN Security Council (UNSC) proposing relaxation of a range of sanctions against the DPRK, including exemptions for inter-Korean rail and road co-operation projects.

:  Human Rights Watch (HRW) publishes a letter to President Moon Jae-in from 67 human rights-related NGOs, criticising the ROK for “increasing disengagement with (sic) ongoing human rights violations by the…DPRK.” This cites the Nov. 7 repatriation of two would-be defectors, as well as Seoul’s “baffl[ing]” decision a week later not to sponsor the annual UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution on North Korea’s human rights situation. The letter is also signed by ten individuals, including both the current UN Special Rapporteur on DPRK human rights, Tomás Ojea Quintana, and his predecessor Marzuki Darusman.

:  Reuters reports that China and Russia have circulated a joint draft resolution to the UN Security Council (UNSC) proposing relaxation of a range of sanctions against the DPRK, including exemptions for inter-Korean rail and road co-operation projects.

:  Human Rights Watch (HRW) publishes a letter to President Moon Jae-in from 67 human rights-related NGOs, criticising the ROK for “increasing disengagement with (sic) ongoing human rights violations by the…DPRK.” This cites the Nov. 7 repatriation of two would-be defectors, as well as Seoul’s “baffl[ing]” decision a week later not to sponsor the annual UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution on North Korea’s human rights situation. The letter is also signed by ten individuals, including both the current UN Special Rapporteur on DPRK human rights, Tomás Ojea Quintana, and his predecessor Marzuki Darusman.

:  Reuters reports that China and Russia have circulated a joint draft resolution to the UN Security Council (UNSC) proposing relaxation of a range of sanctions against the DPRK, including exemptions for inter-Korean rail and road co-operation projects.

:  Citing “government sources,” Yonhap reports that Seoul is preparing to assist the North in fighting swine fever—despite the North’s non-reply to its several offers of help. MOU’s preparations include calling a meeting with civilian experts and NGOs.

:  Hours before the deadline, the KFA says it is withdrawing its bid to host the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in soccer. Urged on by FIFA’s President, Gianni Infantino, the two Koreas had planned a joint bid, but the freeze in North-South ties has thwarted this.

:  Citing “government sources,” Yonhap reports that Seoul is preparing to assist the North in fighting swine fever—despite the North’s non-reply to its several offers of help. MOU’s preparations include calling a meeting with civilian experts and NGOs.

:  Hours before the deadline, the KFA says it is withdrawing its bid to host the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in soccer. Urged on by FIFA’s President, Gianni Infantino, the two Koreas had planned a joint bid, but the freeze in North-South ties has thwarted this.

:  Citing “government sources,” Yonhap reports that Seoul is preparing to assist the North in fighting swine fever—despite the North’s non-reply to its several offers of help. MOU’s preparations include calling a meeting with civilian experts and NGOs.

:  Hours before the deadline, the KFA says it is withdrawing its bid to host the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in soccer. Urged on by FIFA’s President, Gianni Infantino, the two Koreas had planned a joint bid, but the freeze in North-South ties has thwarted this.

:  MOU announces that despite the current North-South stalemate, the budget of its Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund (IKCF) will increase by 9 percent next year to 1.2 billion won ($1 billion). That includes 489 billion won for economic projects and 127.5 billion won for co-operation in forestry. The ministry says this allocation reflects “our will to improve relations”: a quasi-admission that these funds may not actually get spent any time soon.

:  MOU announces that despite the current North-South stalemate, the budget of its Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund (IKCF) will increase by 9 percent next year to 1.2 billion won ($1 billion). That includes 489 billion won for economic projects and 127.5 billion won for co-operation in forestry. The ministry says this allocation reflects “our will to improve relations”: a quasi-admission that these funds may not actually get spent any time soon.

:  MOU announces that despite the current North-South stalemate, the budget of its Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund (IKCF) will increase by 9 percent next year to 1.2 billion won ($1 billion). That includes 489 billion won for economic projects and 127.5 billion won for co-operation in forestry. The ministry says this allocation reflects “our will to improve relations”: a quasi-admission that these funds may not actually get spent any time soon.

:  MOU says it expects WHO to launch an ROK-aided program in the DPRK (see Dec. 6 above) as early as this year.

:  MOU says it expects WHO to launch an ROK-aided program in the DPRK (see Dec. 6 above) as early as this year.

:  MOU says it expects WHO to launch an ROK-aided program in the DPRK (see Dec. 6 above) as early as this year.

:  MOU announces that South Korea will donate $5 million to the World Health Organization (WHO), to improve healthcare for mothers and babies in North Korea. Seoul had supported this project until 2014, when it was suspended as inter-Korean ties worsened.

:  MOU announces that South Korea will donate $5 million to the World Health Organization (WHO), to improve healthcare for mothers and babies in North Korea. Seoul had supported this project until 2014, when it was suspended as inter-Korean ties worsened.

:  MOU announces that South Korea will donate $5 million to the World Health Organization (WHO), to improve healthcare for mothers and babies in North Korea. Seoul had supported this project until 2014, when it was suspended as inter-Korean ties worsened.

:  Park Won-soon, mayor of Seoul and a political ally of Moon Jae-in, tells the inaugural Seoul Peace Conference that “the most important task in establishing reconciliation and integration in Northeast Asia is to realize a ‘peace community,’ and the Seoul-Pyongyang co-hosting of the 2032 Olympics will provide a precious opportunity to accomplish the goal.” Meanwhile in the real world, North Korea is refusing to discuss fielding some joint teams—as it had earlier agreed to do—with the South at the Tokyo Olympics, now just months away.

:  Park Won-soon, mayor of Seoul and a political ally of Moon Jae-in, tells the inaugural Seoul Peace Conference that “the most important task in establishing reconciliation and integration in Northeast Asia is to realize a ‘peace community,’ and the Seoul-Pyongyang co-hosting of the 2032 Olympics will provide a precious opportunity to accomplish the goal.” Meanwhile in the real world, North Korea is refusing to discuss fielding some joint teams—as it had earlier agreed to do—with the South at the Tokyo Olympics, now just months away.

:  Park Won-soon, mayor of Seoul and a political ally of Moon Jae-in, tells the inaugural Seoul Peace Conference that “the most important task in establishing reconciliation and integration in Northeast Asia is to realize a ‘peace community,’ and the Seoul-Pyongyang co-hosting of the 2032 Olympics will provide a precious opportunity to accomplish the goal.” Meanwhile in the real world, North Korea is refusing to discuss fielding some joint teams—as it had earlier agreed to do—with the South at the Tokyo Olympics, now just months away.

:  ROK Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul admits that some facilities at Mount Kumgang need repair, and that about 340 containers lie abandoned there. He neither confirms nor denies a media report that Seoul has accepted Pyongyang’s demand to remove such items.

:  ROK Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul admits that some facilities at Mount Kumgang need repair, and that about 340 containers lie abandoned there. He neither confirms nor denies a media report that Seoul has accepted Pyongyang’s demand to remove such items.

:  ROK Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul admits that some facilities at Mount Kumgang need repair, and that about 340 containers lie abandoned there. He neither confirms nor denies a media report that Seoul has accepted Pyongyang’s demand to remove such items.

: ROK Ministry of National Defense (MND) says it will build a memorial for the fallen near Arrowhead Ridge in the DMZ—the site of a major Korea War battle—in Cheorwon, 90 km northeast of Seoul. South Korea recently completed an eight-month dig in the area, retrieving 2,030 pieces of bones from 260 soldiers on both sides. They also removed over 450 land mines, some 5,700 unexploded shells and 35 tons of scrap iron. This was meant to be a joint endeavor, but North Korea pulled out.

: ROK Ministry of National Defense (MND) says it will build a memorial for the fallen near Arrowhead Ridge in the DMZ—the site of a major Korea War battle—in Cheorwon, 90 km northeast of Seoul. South Korea recently completed an eight-month dig in the area, retrieving 2,030 pieces of bones from 260 soldiers on both sides. They also removed over 450 land mines, some 5,700 unexploded shells and 35 tons of scrap iron. This was meant to be a joint endeavor, but North Korea pulled out.

: ROK Ministry of National Defense (MND) says it will build a memorial for the fallen near Arrowhead Ridge in the DMZ—the site of a major Korea War battle—in Cheorwon, 90 km northeast of Seoul. South Korea recently completed an eight-month dig in the area, retrieving 2,030 pieces of bones from 260 soldiers on both sides. They also removed over 450 land mines, some 5,700 unexploded shells and 35 tons of scrap iron. This was meant to be a joint endeavor, but North Korea pulled out.

:  A propos Kumgangsan, the DPRK propaganda website Uriminzokkiri says “It is our unwavering will to remove all the South’s unpleasant-looking facilities that have been spoiling the landscape of this famous mountain and turn it into a … modern international cultural, tourist zone.” Other DPRK media carry similar articles.

:  MOU says South Korea is closely watching developments at Jangjon on the DPRK’s east coast. Previously a military port, from 1998 it became the main harbor used by ROK ships bringing tourists to Mt. Kumgang. A Seoul newspaper claims it is now reverting to a naval base. That would dash hopes of resuming Kumgangsan tourism as a joint venture.

:  A propos Kumgangsan, the DPRK propaganda website Uriminzokkiri says “It is our unwavering will to remove all the South’s unpleasant-looking facilities that have been spoiling the landscape of this famous mountain and turn it into a … modern international cultural, tourist zone.” Other DPRK media carry similar articles.

:  MOU says South Korea is closely watching developments at Jangjon on the DPRK’s east coast. Previously a military port, from 1998 it became the main harbor used by ROK ships bringing tourists to Mt. Kumgang. A Seoul newspaper claims it is now reverting to a naval base. That would dash hopes of resuming Kumgangsan tourism as a joint venture.

:  A propos Kumgangsan, the DPRK propaganda website Uriminzokkiri says “It is our unwavering will to remove all the South’s unpleasant-looking facilities that have been spoiling the landscape of this famous mountain and turn it into a … modern international cultural, tourist zone.” Other DPRK media carry similar articles.

:  MOU says South Korea is closely watching developments at Jangjon on the DPRK’s east coast. Previously a military port, from 1998 it became the main harbor used by ROK ships bringing tourists to Mt. Kumgang. A Seoul newspaper claims it is now reverting to a naval base. That would dash hopes of resuming Kumgangsan tourism as a joint venture.

:  The ROK uses the inter-Korean military hotline to make a “strong complaint” about the KPA’s recent coastal artillery drill, whose date it now gives as Nov. 23, the ninth anniversary of the DPRK’s shelling of nearby Yeonpyeong, which killed four South Koreans.

:  MOU says the two Koreas remain “far apart” on the Mt. Kumgang issue.

:  The ROK uses the inter-Korean military hotline to make a “strong complaint” about the KPA’s recent coastal artillery drill, whose date it now gives as Nov. 23, the ninth anniversary of the DPRK’s shelling of nearby Yeonpyeong, which killed four South Koreans.

:  MOU says the two Koreas remain “far apart” on the Mt. Kumgang issue.

:  The ROK uses the inter-Korean military hotline to make a “strong complaint” about the KPA’s recent coastal artillery drill, whose date it now gives as Nov. 23, the ninth anniversary of the DPRK’s shelling of nearby Yeonpyeong, which killed four South Koreans.

:  MOU says the two Koreas remain “far apart” on the Mt. Kumgang issue.

:  MND says that North Korea conducted artillery firing drills on Changrin, an islet just north of the NLL, in violation of 2018s inter-Korean military agreement. The same day KCNA reports an inspection visit to Changrin by Kim, including an order to fire. Contra some press reports, neither side states exactly when this happened (but see next item).

:  MND says that North Korea conducted artillery firing drills on Changrin, an islet just north of the NLL, in violation of 2018s inter-Korean military agreement. The same day KCNA reports an inspection visit to Changrin by Kim, including an order to fire. Contra some press reports, neither side states exactly when this happened (but see next item).

:  MND says that North Korea conducted artillery firing drills on Changrin, an islet just north of the NLL, in violation of 2018s inter-Korean military agreement. The same day KCNA reports an inspection visit to Changrin by Kim, including an order to fire. Contra some press reports, neither side states exactly when this happened (but see next item).

:  Pyongyang politely, if also sarcastically, declines Moon Jae-in’s invitation for Kim to attend the upcoming ROK-ASEAN summit in Busan. A KCNA commentary says that such a visit would be inappropriate, giving several cogent reasons.

:  Pyongyang politely, if also sarcastically, declines Moon Jae-in’s invitation for Kim to attend the upcoming ROK-ASEAN summit in Busan. A KCNA commentary says that such a visit would be inappropriate, giving several cogent reasons.

:  Pyongyang politely, if also sarcastically, declines Moon Jae-in’s invitation for Kim to attend the upcoming ROK-ASEAN summit in Busan. A KCNA commentary says that such a visit would be inappropriate, giving several cogent reasons.

:  21 years to the day after Hyundai Asan launched South Korean tourism to Mt. Kumgang, Seoul urges Pyongyang to come to the table and hold talks on the future of the resort, rather than issue ultimatums while insisting on communicating only via documents.

:  21 years to the day after Hyundai Asan launched South Korean tourism to Mt. Kumgang, Seoul urges Pyongyang to come to the table and hold talks on the future of the resort, rather than issue ultimatums while insisting on communicating only via documents.

:  21 years to the day after Hyundai Asan launched South Korean tourism to Mt. Kumgang, Seoul urges Pyongyang to come to the table and hold talks on the future of the resort, rather than issue ultimatums while insisting on communicating only via documents.

:  KCNA and other DPRK media carry an article headlined: “Mt. Kumgang Is Not Common Property of North and South.” Uncompromising in content and sneering in tone, it reiterates the threat “to demolish without trace the south side’s facilities that sprawled out only to mar the beautiful scenery.” It concludes: “There is no room for south Korea to find its place there [at Kumgangsan].”

: Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) says it is in touch with the ROK government regarding the Nov. 7 repatriation of two DPRK would-be defectors. OHCHR clarifies that this is not a formal investigation. The same day, MOU insists there is no doubt that the two deportees were murderers. Each separately admitted their crimes, while DPRK authorities corroborated the broad picture.

:  KCNA and other DPRK media carry an article headlined: “Mt. Kumgang Is Not Common Property of North and South.” Uncompromising in content and sneering in tone, it reiterates the threat “to demolish without trace the south side’s facilities that sprawled out only to mar the beautiful scenery.” It concludes: “There is no room for south Korea to find its place there [at Kumgangsan].”

: Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) says it is in touch with the ROK government regarding the Nov. 7 repatriation of two DPRK would-be defectors. OHCHR clarifies that this is not a formal investigation. The same day, MOU insists there is no doubt that the two deportees were murderers. Each separately admitted their crimes, while DPRK authorities corroborated the broad picture.

:  KCNA and other DPRK media carry an article headlined: “Mt. Kumgang Is Not Common Property of North and South.” Uncompromising in content and sneering in tone, it reiterates the threat “to demolish without trace the south side’s facilities that sprawled out only to mar the beautiful scenery.” It concludes: “There is no room for south Korea to find its place there [at Kumgangsan].”

: Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) says it is in touch with the ROK government regarding the Nov. 7 repatriation of two DPRK would-be defectors. OHCHR clarifies that this is not a formal investigation. The same day, MOU insists there is no doubt that the two deportees were murderers. Each separately admitted their crimes, while DPRK authorities corroborated the broad picture.

:  For the first time in a decade, the ROK is not among some 40 states that

:  ROK Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul meets Hyun Jeong-un, chairperson of Hyundai Group. They discuss how to resolve the Mt. Kumgang issue.

:  For the first time in a decade, the ROK is not among some 40 states that

:  ROK Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul meets Hyun Jeong-un, chairperson of Hyundai Group. They discuss how to resolve the Mt. Kumgang issue.

:  For the first time in a decade, the ROK is not among some 40 states that

:  ROK Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul meets Hyun Jeong-un, chairperson of Hyundai Group. They discuss how to resolve the Mt. Kumgang issue.

:  The New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch condemns the ROK’s Nov. 7 deportations as “illegal under international law.”

:  Seoul Metropolitan Government becomes the first local authority permitted (by South Korea) to independently pursue aid projects in North Korea. Whether the DPRK will allow this is another question. On Nov. 21, MOU extends the same permission to Incheon city and Gyeonggi province, which abut and surround Seoul respectively.

:  The New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch condemns the ROK’s Nov. 7 deportations as “illegal under international law.”

:  Seoul Metropolitan Government becomes the first local authority permitted (by South Korea) to independently pursue aid projects in North Korea. Whether the DPRK will allow this is another question. On Nov. 21, MOU extends the same permission to Incheon city and Gyeonggi province, which abut and surround Seoul respectively.

:  The New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch condemns the ROK’s Nov. 7 deportations as “illegal under international law.”

:  Seoul Metropolitan Government becomes the first local authority permitted (by South Korea) to independently pursue aid projects in North Korea. Whether the DPRK will allow this is another question. On Nov. 21, MOU extends the same permission to Incheon city and Gyeonggi province, which abut and surround Seoul respectively.

:  Twenty ROK human rights groups condemn the Nov. 7 deportations, calling it a “shameful decision” that violated due process and the suspects’ right to justice. MOU refutes such criticisms. It does not comment on media reports that the decision to deport came from the Blue House National Security Office, without consulting either the NIS or MOU.

:  DPRK media lambast the US and ROK over their burden-sharing talks. Washington wants to quintuple the amount Seoul pays to host US forces in Korea (USFK). DPRK Today calls the US “a shameless robber group bent on extorting an astronomical amount of taxpayers’ money from south Korea … It is stupid that South Korean authorities are ready to give all it has, while lauding such a robber as a savior and blood ally.”

:  Though not publicized until Nov. 15, Pyongyang sends Seoul an ultimatum (their word) threatening to “unilaterally

down” Southern facilities at Mt. Kumgang unless the South removes them on the North’s terms.

:  Twenty ROK human rights groups condemn the Nov. 7 deportations, calling it a “shameful decision” that violated due process and the suspects’ right to justice. MOU refutes such criticisms. It does not comment on media reports that the decision to deport came from the Blue House National Security Office, without consulting either the NIS or MOU.

:  DPRK media lambast the US and ROK over their burden-sharing talks. Washington wants to quintuple the amount Seoul pays to host US forces in Korea (USFK). DPRK Today calls the US “a shameless robber group bent on extorting an astronomical amount of taxpayers’ money from south Korea … It is stupid that South Korean authorities are ready to give all it has, while lauding such a robber as a savior and blood ally.”

:  Though not publicized until Nov. 15, Pyongyang sends Seoul an ultimatum (their word) threatening to “unilaterally

down” Southern facilities at Mt. Kumgang unless the South removes them on the North’s terms.

:  Twenty ROK human rights groups condemn the Nov. 7 deportations, calling it a “shameful decision” that violated due process and the suspects’ right to justice. MOU refutes such criticisms. It does not comment on media reports that the decision to deport came from the Blue House National Security Office, without consulting either the NIS or MOU.

:  DPRK media lambast the US and ROK over their burden-sharing talks. Washington wants to quintuple the amount Seoul pays to host US forces in Korea (USFK). DPRK Today calls the US “a shameless robber group bent on extorting an astronomical amount of taxpayers’ money from south Korea … It is stupid that South Korean authorities are ready to give all it has, while lauding such a robber as a savior and blood ally.”

:  Though not publicized until Nov. 15, Pyongyang sends Seoul an ultimatum (their word) threatening to “unilaterally

down” Southern facilities at Mt. Kumgang unless the South removes them on the North’s terms.

:  After yesterday’s deportations, South Korea also returns their fishing boat to North Korea. The 15-meter, 20-ton vessel was handed over at the East Sea maritime border.

:  After yesterday’s deportations, South Korea also returns their fishing boat to North Korea. The 15-meter, 20-ton vessel was handed over at the East Sea maritime border.

:  After yesterday’s deportations, South Korea also returns their fishing boat to North Korea. The 15-meter, 20-ton vessel was handed over at the East Sea maritime border.

:  MOU admits that for the first time, South Korea repatriated would-be Northern defectors against their will. Two squid fishermen in their 20s were handed over at Panmunjom, five days after the ROK Navy seized their boat in the East Sea following a two-day chase. On Seoul’s account, both men confessed in separate interrogations to killing their captain and 15 crew members. The ROK therefore treated them as “heinous criminals” fleeing justice. It had no plan to disclose any of this; only a journalist’s vigilance brought it to light.

:  MOU admits that for the first time, South Korea repatriated would-be Northern defectors against their will. Two squid fishermen in their 20s were handed over at Panmunjom, five days after the ROK Navy seized their boat in the East Sea following a two-day chase. On Seoul’s account, both men confessed in separate interrogations to killing their captain and 15 crew members. The ROK therefore treated them as “heinous criminals” fleeing justice. It had no plan to disclose any of this; only a journalist’s vigilance brought it to light.

:  MOU admits that for the first time, South Korea repatriated would-be Northern defectors against their will. Two squid fishermen in their 20s were handed over at Panmunjom, five days after the ROK Navy seized their boat in the East Sea following a two-day chase. On Seoul’s account, both men confessed in separate interrogations to killing their captain and 15 crew members. The ROK therefore treated them as “heinous criminals” fleeing justice. It had no plan to disclose any of this; only a journalist’s vigilance brought it to light.

:  MOU discloses that 828 North Koreans defected to the South in 2019 so far (January-October), suggesting the full-year figure will be close to 2018’s 1,137. Numbers have fallen since Kim Jong Un took power. The cumulative total is not large, around 32,000.

:  MOU discloses that 828 North Koreans defected to the South in 2019 so far (January-October), suggesting the full-year figure will be close to 2018’s 1,137. Numbers have fallen since Kim Jong Un took power. The cumulative total is not large, around 32,000.

:  MOU discloses that 828 North Koreans defected to the South in 2019 so far (January-October), suggesting the full-year figure will be close to 2018’s 1,137. Numbers have fallen since Kim Jong Un took power. The cumulative total is not large, around 32,000.

:  The Blue House (Cheong Wa Dae, the ROK presidential office cum residence) announces that Kim Jong Un sent condolences for the death on Oct. 29 of President Moon Jae-in’s 92 year old mother, Kang Han-ok, who fled North Korea during the Korean War. Kim’s message was delivered via Panmunjom.

:  The Blue House (Cheong Wa Dae, the ROK presidential office cum residence) announces that Kim Jong Un sent condolences for the death on Oct. 29 of President Moon Jae-in’s 92 year old mother, Kang Han-ok, who fled North Korea during the Korean War. Kim’s message was delivered via Panmunjom.

:  The Blue House (Cheong Wa Dae, the ROK presidential office cum residence) announces that Kim Jong Un sent condolences for the death on Oct. 29 of President Moon Jae-in’s 92 year old mother, Kang Han-ok, who fled North Korea during the Korean War. Kim’s message was delivered via Panmunjom.

:  MOU reiterates that a face to face meeting is needed to discuss Kumgangsan.

:  MOU reiterates that a face to face meeting is needed to discuss Kumgangsan.

:  MOU reiterates that a face to face meeting is needed to discuss Kumgangsan.

:  South Korea adds that it is prepared to discuss the safety of individual tourists to Mount Kumgang with the North. (This is an olive branch: individual, as opposed to group tourism would not breach sanctions). Rebuffing Seoul’s offer of talks, Pyongyang perversely insists that the issue be dealt with by exchanging documents rather than meeting face to face.

:  South Korea adds that it is prepared to discuss the safety of individual tourists to Mount Kumgang with the North. (This is an olive branch: individual, as opposed to group tourism would not breach sanctions). Rebuffing Seoul’s offer of talks, Pyongyang perversely insists that the issue be dealt with by exchanging documents rather than meeting face to face.

:  South Korea adds that it is prepared to discuss the safety of individual tourists to Mount Kumgang with the North. (This is an olive branch: individual, as opposed to group tourism would not breach sanctions). Rebuffing Seoul’s offer of talks, Pyongyang perversely insists that the issue be dealt with by exchanging documents rather than meeting face to face.

:  Following North Korea’s demand that the South remove all its facilities from the Mount Kumgang resort, Seoul offers to hold talks about the future of tourism there.

:  Following North Korea’s demand that the South remove all its facilities from the Mount Kumgang resort, Seoul offers to hold talks about the future of tourism there.

:  Following North Korea’s demand that the South remove all its facilities from the Mount Kumgang resort, Seoul offers to hold talks about the future of tourism there.

:  Jeju provincial government announces another inter-Korean soccer match. The two Koreas have been drawn in the same group, with Vietnam and Myanmar, for the third round of the Asian qualifiers for women’s soccer for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. All matches will take place on the ROK island during Feb. 3-9, 2020.

:  Jeju provincial government announces another inter-Korean soccer match. The two Koreas have been drawn in the same group, with Vietnam and Myanmar, for the third round of the Asian qualifiers for women’s soccer for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. All matches will take place on the ROK island during Feb. 3-9, 2020.

:  Jeju provincial government announces another inter-Korean soccer match. The two Koreas have been drawn in the same group, with Vietnam and Myanmar, for the third round of the Asian qualifiers for women’s soccer for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. All matches will take place on the ROK island during Feb. 3-9, 2020.

:  After hearing nothing for two days, MOU says North Korea has notified it of Kim’s order on Mt. Kumgang, and proposes to discuss this by exchanging documents.

:  After hearing nothing for two days, MOU says North Korea has notified it of Kim’s order on Mt. Kumgang, and proposes to discuss this by exchanging documents.

:  After hearing nothing for two days, MOU says North Korea has notified it of Kim’s order on Mt. Kumgang, and proposes to discuss this by exchanging documents.

:  KCNA reports that Kim Jong Un has inspected Mount Kumgang: presumably on Oct. 22. This is his first known visit. Criticising the mothballed resort’s South Korean-built facilities as shabby and unpleasant-looking, he orders their removal, by “agreement with the relevant unit of the south side.” In a major policy U-turn, he insists that Kumgangsan is “our [the DPRK’s] famous mountain” rather than “a common property of the north and the south.”

:  KCNA reports that Kim Jong Un has inspected Mount Kumgang: presumably on Oct. 22. This is his first known visit. Criticising the mothballed resort’s South Korean-built facilities as shabby and unpleasant-looking, he orders their removal, by “agreement with the relevant unit of the south side.” In a major policy U-turn, he insists that Kumgangsan is “our [the DPRK’s] famous mountain” rather than “a common property of the north and the south.”

:  KCNA reports that Kim Jong Un has inspected Mount Kumgang: presumably on Oct. 22. This is his first known visit. Criticising the mothballed resort’s South Korean-built facilities as shabby and unpleasant-looking, he orders their removal, by “agreement with the relevant unit of the south side.” In a major policy U-turn, he insists that Kumgangsan is “our [the DPRK’s] famous mountain” rather than “a common property of the north and the south.”

:  MOU says it will permit South Korean municipal authorities to pursue their own aid projects with the North, rather than them having to partner with NGOs as currently.

:  Two North Korean websites, Meari and Uriminzokkiri, attack various South Korean plans to conduct missile tests and develop new weapons: “Reckless military schemes will not go unnoticed. (We) will make them regret to the backbone” (sic).

:  Yonhap reports that according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) data, South Korea is North Korea’s largest aid donor this year, giving $9 million to WFP. This is almost 30 percent of the total donations of $30.55 million.

:  MOU says it will permit South Korean municipal authorities to pursue their own aid projects with the North, rather than them having to partner with NGOs as currently.

:  Two North Korean websites, Meari and Uriminzokkiri, attack various South Korean plans to conduct missile tests and develop new weapons: “Reckless military schemes will not go unnoticed. (We) will make them regret to the backbone” (sic).

:  Yonhap reports that according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) data, South Korea is North Korea’s largest aid donor this year, giving $9 million to WFP. This is almost 30 percent of the total donations of $30.55 million.

:  MOU says it will permit South Korean municipal authorities to pursue their own aid projects with the North, rather than them having to partner with NGOs as currently.

:  Two North Korean websites, Meari and Uriminzokkiri, attack various South Korean plans to conduct missile tests and develop new weapons: “Reckless military schemes will not go unnoticed. (We) will make them regret to the backbone” (sic).

:  Yonhap reports that according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) data, South Korea is North Korea’s largest aid donor this year, giving $9 million to WFP. This is almost 30 percent of the total donations of $30.55 million.

:  The militant defector group Fighters for a Free North Korea (FFNK) says it sent 500,000 leaflets across the DMZ by balloon on Oct. 20, criticising the DPRK for holding the inter-Korean soccer match behind closed doors. The cargo also included 2,000 one-dollar bills, 1,000 USB drives and 500 booklets. The Moon government disapproves of such antics.

:  North Korea denies still holding South Koreans from an aircraft hijacking in 1969, calling this charge a “stereotyped anti-DPRK political plot pursued by hostile forces.” Pyongyang insists that the 11 (out of 50) who were not returned chose to stay in the North. It further claims that nobody in North Korea has been “forcibly detained against his or her will.”

:  The militant defector group Fighters for a Free North Korea (FFNK) says it sent 500,000 leaflets across the DMZ by balloon on Oct. 20, criticising the DPRK for holding the inter-Korean soccer match behind closed doors. The cargo also included 2,000 one-dollar bills, 1,000 USB drives and 500 booklets. The Moon government disapproves of such antics.

:  North Korea denies still holding South Koreans from an aircraft hijacking in 1969, calling this charge a “stereotyped anti-DPRK political plot pursued by hostile forces.” Pyongyang insists that the 11 (out of 50) who were not returned chose to stay in the North. It further claims that nobody in North Korea has been “forcibly detained against his or her will.”

:  The militant defector group Fighters for a Free North Korea (FFNK) says it sent 500,000 leaflets across the DMZ by balloon on Oct. 20, criticising the DPRK for holding the inter-Korean soccer match behind closed doors. The cargo also included 2,000 one-dollar bills, 1,000 USB drives and 500 booklets. The Moon government disapproves of such antics.

:  North Korea denies still holding South Koreans from an aircraft hijacking in 1969, calling this charge a “stereotyped anti-DPRK political plot pursued by hostile forces.” Pyongyang insists that the 11 (out of 50) who were not returned chose to stay in the North. It further claims that nobody in North Korea has been “forcibly detained against his or her will.”

:  The ROK’s Korea Football Association (KFA) says it has asked the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to consider punishing North Korea for its uncooperativeness, in breach of AFC rules, regarding arrangements for Oct.16’s inter-Korean soccer match.

:  The ROK’s Korea Football Association (KFA) says it has asked the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to consider punishing North Korea for its uncooperativeness, in breach of AFC rules, regarding arrangements for Oct.16’s inter-Korean soccer match.

:  The ROK’s Korea Football Association (KFA) says it has asked the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to consider punishing North Korea for its uncooperativeness, in breach of AFC rules, regarding arrangements for Oct.16’s inter-Korean soccer match.

:  The inter-Korean Group H World Cup qualifier takes place in a virtually empty Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang. North Korea, which refused to admit South Korean fans, gave no advance warning that there would be no spectators at all. Headlined as a “chippy” game by Yonhap—four yellow cards, two each—this ends in a scoreless draw. In the absence of live broadcasting, the Swedish Ambassador provides glimpses and commentary on Twitter.

:  MOU says North Korea has promised to provide a DVD of the inter-Korean soccer match before the Southern team leaves tomorrow. It duly does so, but the video quality is so poor that KBS decides not to air it.

:  MOU says the DPRK has officially invited the ROK to the 2019 Asian Youth & Junior Weightlifting Championships, an Olympic qualifying event upcoming in Pyongyang on Oct. 20-27. The 65-strong South Korean contingent will include two journalists.

:  The inter-Korean Group H World Cup qualifier takes place in a virtually empty Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang. North Korea, which refused to admit South Korean fans, gave no advance warning that there would be no spectators at all. Headlined as a “chippy” game by Yonhap—four yellow cards, two each—this ends in a scoreless draw. In the absence of live broadcasting, the Swedish Ambassador provides glimpses and commentary on Twitter.

:  MOU says North Korea has promised to provide a DVD of the inter-Korean soccer match before the Southern team leaves tomorrow. It duly does so, but the video quality is so poor that KBS decides not to air it.

:  MOU says the DPRK has officially invited the ROK to the 2019 Asian Youth & Junior Weightlifting Championships, an Olympic qualifying event upcoming in Pyongyang on Oct. 20-27. The 65-strong South Korean contingent will include two journalists.

:  The inter-Korean Group H World Cup qualifier takes place in a virtually empty Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang. North Korea, which refused to admit South Korean fans, gave no advance warning that there would be no spectators at all. Headlined as a “chippy” game by Yonhap—four yellow cards, two each—this ends in a scoreless draw. In the absence of live broadcasting, the Swedish Ambassador provides glimpses and commentary on Twitter.

:  MOU says North Korea has promised to provide a DVD of the inter-Korean soccer match before the Southern team leaves tomorrow. It duly does so, but the video quality is so poor that KBS decides not to air it.

:  MOU says the DPRK has officially invited the ROK to the 2019 Asian Youth & Junior Weightlifting Championships, an Olympic qualifying event upcoming in Pyongyang on Oct. 20-27. The 65-strong South Korean contingent will include two journalists.

:  South Korea’s three major terrestrial TV networks—KBS, MBC and SBS—say that tomorrow’s inter-Korean soccer match will not be broadcast live, as arrangements “fell apart.” North Korea has still not replied to the South’s request to send a cheering squad, tantamount to refusal.

:  South Korea’s three major terrestrial TV networks—KBS, MBC and SBS—say that tomorrow’s inter-Korean soccer match will not be broadcast live, as arrangements “fell apart.” North Korea has still not replied to the South’s request to send a cheering squad, tantamount to refusal.

:  South Korea’s three major terrestrial TV networks—KBS, MBC and SBS—say that tomorrow’s inter-Korean soccer match will not be broadcast live, as arrangements “fell apart.” North Korea has still not replied to the South’s request to send a cheering squad, tantamount to refusal.

:  ROK military helicopters spray disinfectant over the DMZ, after a wild boar infected by ASF was found dead there. Seoul first duly consulted the UN Command and also notified Pyongyang, which still refuses to co-operate in combating this shared epidemic.

:  MOU calls it “disappointing” that North Korea is still blanking the South’s urgent and repeated requests to discuss issues like sending fans and live broadcasting of the inter-Korean soccer match, now imminent. Some might have used stronger language.

:  ROK military helicopters spray disinfectant over the DMZ, after a wild boar infected by ASF was found dead there. Seoul first duly consulted the UN Command and also notified Pyongyang, which still refuses to co-operate in combating this shared epidemic.

:  MOU calls it “disappointing” that North Korea is still blanking the South’s urgent and repeated requests to discuss issues like sending fans and live broadcasting of the inter-Korean soccer match, now imminent. Some might have used stronger language.

:  ROK military helicopters spray disinfectant over the DMZ, after a wild boar infected by ASF was found dead there. Seoul first duly consulted the UN Command and also notified Pyongyang, which still refuses to co-operate in combating this shared epidemic.

:  MOU calls it “disappointing” that North Korea is still blanking the South’s urgent and repeated requests to discuss issues like sending fans and live broadcasting of the inter-Korean soccer match, now imminent. Some might have used stronger language.

:  The DPRK website Uriminzokkiri attacks “south Korea’s leader on a US tour” (it does not name Moon Jae-in) for “behav[ing] indecently in a servile attitude” by yielding to Washington’s “coercion” to buy more US-made arms.

:  The DPRK website Uriminzokkiri attacks “south Korea’s leader on a US tour” (it does not name Moon Jae-in) for “behav[ing] indecently in a servile attitude” by yielding to Washington’s “coercion” to buy more US-made arms.

:  The DPRK website Uriminzokkiri attacks “south Korea’s leader on a US tour” (it does not name Moon Jae-in) for “behav[ing] indecently in a servile attitude” by yielding to Washington’s “coercion” to buy more US-made arms.

:  With the inter-Korean soccer derby in Pyongyang barely a week away, and North Korea still refusing to discuss whether Southern fans can attend, MOU admits that the prospects for this happening “appear to be not easy from a physical perspective.”

:  With the inter-Korean soccer derby in Pyongyang barely a week away, and North Korea still refusing to discuss whether Southern fans can attend, MOU admits that the prospects for this happening “appear to be not easy from a physical perspective.”

:  With the inter-Korean soccer derby in Pyongyang barely a week away, and North Korea still refusing to discuss whether Southern fans can attend, MOU admits that the prospects for this happening “appear to be not easy from a physical perspective.”

:  Rodong Sinmun, the DPRK’s leading paper and organ of its ruling Workers’ Party (WPK), says: “The South Korean authorities have been passing the buck for the current stalemate in the North-South relations.” It accuses Seoul of “betrayal behaviors” and “very impure words and actions that reverse black and white.”

:  Rodong Sinmun, the DPRK’s leading paper and organ of its ruling Workers’ Party (WPK), says: “The South Korean authorities have been passing the buck for the current stalemate in the North-South relations.” It accuses Seoul of “betrayal behaviors” and “very impure words and actions that reverse black and white.”

:  Rodong Sinmun, the DPRK’s leading paper and organ of its ruling Workers’ Party (WPK), says: “The South Korean authorities have been passing the buck for the current stalemate in the North-South relations.” It accuses Seoul of “betrayal behaviors” and “very impure words and actions that reverse black and white.”

:  MOU says it expects the ROK flag (Taegukgi) to fly in Pyongyang on Oct. 15 as international norms dictate, when the two Koreas play a FIFA World Cup soccer qualifying match. North Korea is still ignoring the South’s efforts to make concrete arrangements, including its request to send a cheering squad.

:  MOU says it expects the ROK flag (Taegukgi) to fly in Pyongyang on Oct. 15 as international norms dictate, when the two Koreas play a FIFA World Cup soccer qualifying match. North Korea is still ignoring the South’s efforts to make concrete arrangements, including its request to send a cheering squad.

:  MOU says it expects the ROK flag (Taegukgi) to fly in Pyongyang on Oct. 15 as international norms dictate, when the two Koreas play a FIFA World Cup soccer qualifying match. North Korea is still ignoring the South’s efforts to make concrete arrangements, including its request to send a cheering squad.

:  MOU says it is “reviewing a comprehensive plan on the peaceful use of the DMZ.” This will include President Moon’s idea, put to the UN General Assembly yesterday, to transform it into a peace zone by opening international offices there, including the UN’s. However the ministry says it is too early to discuss such schemes with North Korea.

:  Pyongyang’s propaganda website Meari slams Seoul for expressing the hope that a US-DPRK meeting would improve inter-Korean relations, calling this “an abominable behavior of subordination to an outside force.”

:  MOU says it is “reviewing a comprehensive plan on the peaceful use of the DMZ.” This will include President Moon’s idea, put to the UN General Assembly yesterday, to transform it into a peace zone by opening international offices there, including the UN’s. However the ministry says it is too early to discuss such schemes with North Korea.

:  Pyongyang’s propaganda website Meari slams Seoul for expressing the hope that a US-DPRK meeting would improve inter-Korean relations, calling this “an abominable behavior of subordination to an outside force.”

:  MOU says it is “reviewing a comprehensive plan on the peaceful use of the DMZ.” This will include President Moon’s idea, put to the UN General Assembly yesterday, to transform it into a peace zone by opening international offices there, including the UN’s. However the ministry says it is too early to discuss such schemes with North Korea.

:  Pyongyang’s propaganda website Meari slams Seoul for expressing the hope that a US-DPRK meeting would improve inter-Korean relations, calling this “an abominable behavior of subordination to an outside force.”

:  Meari, a Korean-language DPRK website for external audiences, renews the demand that 12 former restaurant workers in China who defected in 2016 be repatriated. It cites the recent findings of the IADL enquiry (see Sept. 4 and Sept. 10, above).

:  MOU says South Korea has notified North Korea of two more confirmed cases of African swine fever (ASF) at farms near the DMZ, stressing the need for quarantine co-operation, Pyongyang, which reported its own first ASF case in May, has not replied.

:  Contra media claims that North Korea has deployed MLRs or other weapons systems on Hambak—an islet in the West (Yellow) Sea only 20 km from South Korea’s much larger Ganghwa island—the ROK Ministry of National Defense (MND) insists that “not a single attack weapon exists on the island.” Some ROK maps erroneously give Hambak as ROK territory; MND says this will be corrected.

:  Meari, a Korean-language DPRK website for external audiences, renews the demand that 12 former restaurant workers in China who defected in 2016 be repatriated. It cites the recent findings of the IADL enquiry (see Sept. 4 and Sept. 10, above).

:  MOU says South Korea has notified North Korea of two more confirmed cases of African swine fever (ASF) at farms near the DMZ, stressing the need for quarantine co-operation, Pyongyang, which reported its own first ASF case in May, has not replied.

:  Contra media claims that North Korea has deployed MLRs or other weapons systems on Hambak—an islet in the West (Yellow) Sea only 20 km from South Korea’s much larger Ganghwa island—the ROK Ministry of National Defense (MND) insists that “not a single attack weapon exists on the island.” Some ROK maps erroneously give Hambak as ROK territory; MND says this will be corrected.

:  Meari, a Korean-language DPRK website for external audiences, renews the demand that 12 former restaurant workers in China who defected in 2016 be repatriated. It cites the recent findings of the IADL enquiry (see Sept. 4 and Sept. 10, above).

:  MOU says South Korea has notified North Korea of two more confirmed cases of African swine fever (ASF) at farms near the DMZ, stressing the need for quarantine co-operation, Pyongyang, which reported its own first ASF case in May, has not replied.

:  Contra media claims that North Korea has deployed MLRs or other weapons systems on Hambak—an islet in the West (Yellow) Sea only 20 km from South Korea’s much larger Ganghwa island—the ROK Ministry of National Defense (MND) insists that “not a single attack weapon exists on the island.” Some ROK maps erroneously give Hambak as ROK territory; MND says this will be corrected.

:  MOU says Seoul is trying to talk to Pyongyang about two upcoming sports fixtures upcoming there: a soccer World Cup qualifier on Oct. 15—the two Koreas have been drawn against each other—and an international junior weightlifting event (Oct. 20-27). North Korea has not yet invited the South to the latter, and has not replied regarding the former.

:  Speaking at a seminar in Seoul for the first anniversary of the inter-Korean Comprehensive Military Agreement (CMA), and days after North Korea’s latest missile test (see Sept. 11), Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo insists that the CMA in no way renders South Korea vulnerable. On the contrary, “the Sept. 19 agreement can be successfully implemented only based upon our military’s strong power and water-tight readiness posture.”

:  MOU says Seoul is trying to talk to Pyongyang about two upcoming sports fixtures upcoming there: a soccer World Cup qualifier on Oct. 15—the two Koreas have been drawn against each other—and an international junior weightlifting event (Oct. 20-27). North Korea has not yet invited the South to the latter, and has not replied regarding the former.

:  Speaking at a seminar in Seoul for the first anniversary of the inter-Korean Comprehensive Military Agreement (CMA), and days after North Korea’s latest missile test (see Sept. 11), Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo insists that the CMA in no way renders South Korea vulnerable. On the contrary, “the Sept. 19 agreement can be successfully implemented only based upon our military’s strong power and water-tight readiness posture.”

:  MOU says Seoul is trying to talk to Pyongyang about two upcoming sports fixtures upcoming there: a soccer World Cup qualifier on Oct. 15—the two Koreas have been drawn against each other—and an international junior weightlifting event (Oct. 20-27). North Korea has not yet invited the South to the latter, and has not replied regarding the former.

:  Speaking at a seminar in Seoul for the first anniversary of the inter-Korean Comprehensive Military Agreement (CMA), and days after North Korea’s latest missile test (see Sept. 11), Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo insists that the CMA in no way renders South Korea vulnerable. On the contrary, “the Sept. 19 agreement can be successfully implemented only based upon our military’s strong power and water-tight readiness posture.”

:  ROK President Moon Jae-in—himself born to Northern parents—says that he regrets “slow progress” in implementing last year’s agreement to hold regular inter-Korean family reunions. Yet he is oddly even-handed: “It’s wrong that governments in both the South and North have not given them even a chance for such a long time.” In fact only one of the two Korean governments—not the one he heads—is currently blocking such contacts.

:  The same day, Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul tells a group of families with relatives in the North that family reunions will be Seoul’s top priority if inter-Korean dialogue resumes. The group has met annually for Chuseok at Imjingak, a park close to the DMZ, since 1970. A year ago the two Koreas agreed to set up a permanent family reunion center, promote video reunions and allow the exchange of letters. None of this has happened.

:  ROK President Moon Jae-in—himself born to Northern parents—says that he regrets “slow progress” in implementing last year’s agreement to hold regular inter-Korean family reunions. Yet he is oddly even-handed: “It’s wrong that governments in both the South and North have not given them even a chance for such a long time.” In fact only one of the two Korean governments—not the one he heads—is currently blocking such contacts.

:  The same day, Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul tells a group of families with relatives in the North that family reunions will be Seoul’s top priority if inter-Korean dialogue resumes. The group has met annually for Chuseok at Imjingak, a park close to the DMZ, since 1970. A year ago the two Koreas agreed to set up a permanent family reunion center, promote video reunions and allow the exchange of letters. None of this has happened.

:  ROK President Moon Jae-in—himself born to Northern parents—says that he regrets “slow progress” in implementing last year’s agreement to hold regular inter-Korean family reunions. Yet he is oddly even-handed: “It’s wrong that governments in both the South and North have not given them even a chance for such a long time.” In fact only one of the two Korean governments—not the one he heads—is currently blocking such contacts.

:  The same day, Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul tells a group of families with relatives in the North that family reunions will be Seoul’s top priority if inter-Korean dialogue resumes. The group has met annually for Chuseok at Imjingak, a park close to the DMZ, since 1970. A year ago the two Koreas agreed to set up a permanent family reunion center, promote video reunions and allow the exchange of letters. None of this has happened.

:  In a pep talk to ROK army frontline troops just before the Chuseok (harvest festival) holiday, Minister of National Defense (MND) Jeong Kyeong-doo calls for “vigilance and intense drills to keep peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

:  In a pep talk to ROK army frontline troops just before the Chuseok (harvest festival) holiday, Minister of National Defense (MND) Jeong Kyeong-doo calls for “vigilance and intense drills to keep peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

:  In a pep talk to ROK army frontline troops just before the Chuseok (harvest festival) holiday, Minister of National Defense (MND) Jeong Kyeong-doo calls for “vigilance and intense drills to keep peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

:  KCNA describes the weapons system tested yesterday as being a “super-large multiple rocket launcher.” Kim Jong Un again oversees the launch, as he did the first time on Aug. 24, and says its capabilities have been “finally verified in terms of combat operation.”

:  KCNA describes the weapons system tested yesterday as being a “super-large multiple rocket launcher.” Kim Jong Un again oversees the launch, as he did the first time on Aug. 24, and says its capabilities have been “finally verified in terms of combat operation.”

:  KCNA describes the weapons system tested yesterday as being a “super-large multiple rocket launcher.” Kim Jong Un again oversees the launch, as he did the first time on Aug. 24, and says its capabilities have been “finally verified in terms of combat operation.”

:  Reuters reports that the ROK National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) found no foul play in the 2016 defection of 12 DPRK waitresses, contrary to claims that they were abducted (see

:  Hours after First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui expressed readiness to resume denuclearization talks with the US, North Korea test-fires what South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) call two “short-range projectiles.” Launched from Kaechon, 80 km north of Pyongyang, these fly east for 330 km across the peninsula at a maximum altitude of 50-60 km, presumably landing in the East Sea. This is the tenth such launch this year. In response, the ROK holds an emergency National Security Council (NSC) meeting.

:  Reuters reports that the ROK National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) found no foul play in the 2016 defection of 12 DPRK waitresses, contrary to claims that they were abducted (see Sept. 4). The agency was shown relevant NHRC documents, but was told that the full report is unlikely to be published.

:  Hours after First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui expressed readiness to resume denuclearization talks with the US, North Korea test-fires what South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) call two “short-range projectiles.” Launched from Kaechon, 80 km north of Pyongyang, these fly east for 330 km across the peninsula at a maximum altitude of 50-60 km, presumably landing in the East Sea. This is the tenth such launch this year. In response, the ROK holds an emergency National Security Council (NSC) meeting.

:  Reuters reports that the ROK National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) found no foul play in the 2016 defection of 12 DPRK waitresses, contrary to claims that they were abducted (see Sept. 4). The agency was shown relevant NHRC documents, but was told that the full report is unlikely to be published.

:  Hours after First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui expressed readiness to resume denuclearization talks with the US, North Korea test-fires what South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) call two “short-range projectiles.” Launched from Kaechon, 80 km north of Pyongyang, these fly east for 330 km across the peninsula at a maximum altitude of 50-60 km, presumably landing in the East Sea. This is the tenth such launch this year. In response, the ROK holds an emergency National Security Council (NSC) meeting.

:  Under the headline “KCNA Commentary Urges S. [sic] Korean Military Warmongers to Behave Themselves,” the official DPRK news agency savages the ROK’s deployment of two further F-35A fighter jets as allegedly part of a military build-up for a pre-emptive attack. It adds: “They generate a handshake of peace in public but behind the scene, grind a sword for confrontation and war. This is an unpardonable act of perfidy.”

:  MOU now says that the 50,000 tons of rice which South Korea offered in June as food aid to the North via the UN World Food Program (WFP) is unlikely to be delivered this month as planned, since it remains unclear whether Pyongyang will accept it. (See also Aug. 23 in the previous issue of Comparative Connections, and below.)

:  Under the headline “KCNA Commentary Urges S. [sic] Korean Military Warmongers to Behave Themselves,” the official DPRK news agency savages the ROK’s deployment of two further F-35A fighter jets as allegedly part of a military build-up for a pre-emptive attack. It adds: “They generate a handshake of peace in public but behind the scene, grind a sword for confrontation and war. This is an unpardonable act of perfidy.”

:  MOU now says that the 50,000 tons of rice which South Korea offered in June as food aid to the North via the UN World Food Program (WFP) is unlikely to be delivered this month as planned, since it remains unclear whether Pyongyang will accept it. (See also Aug. 23 in the previous issue of Comparative Connections, and below.)

:  Under the headline “KCNA Commentary Urges S. [sic] Korean Military Warmongers to Behave Themselves,” the official DPRK news agency savages the ROK’s deployment of two further F-35A fighter jets as allegedly part of a military build-up for a pre-emptive attack. It adds: “They generate a handshake of peace in public but behind the scene, grind a sword for confrontation and war. This is an unpardonable act of perfidy.”

:  MOU now says that the 50,000 tons of rice which South Korea offered in June as food aid to the North via the UN World Food Program (WFP) is unlikely to be delivered this month as planned, since it remains unclear whether Pyongyang will accept it. (See also Aug. 23 in the previous issue of Comparative Connections, and below.)

:  Ahead of the first anniversary of the opening of a permanent inter-Korean liaison office at Kaesong on Sept. 14, the ROK Ministry of Unification (MOU) confirms that once again the two sides’ co-heads will skip their supposedly weekly meeting. They have not met since the second US-DPRK summit in Hanoi in February.

:  In Vladivostok to attend the 5th Eastern Economic Forum, DPRK Vice-Premier Ri Yong Nam urges Seoul to “implement issues specified in the [Pyongyang] joint declaration and Panmunjom declaration.” Otherwise, “how can [inter-Korean talks] happen?”

:  Ahead of the first anniversary of the opening of a permanent inter-Korean liaison office at Kaesong on Sept. 14, the ROK Ministry of Unification (MOU) confirms that once again the two sides’ co-heads will skip their supposedly weekly meeting. They have not met since the second US-DPRK summit in Hanoi in February.

:  In Vladivostok to attend the 5th Eastern Economic Forum, DPRK Vice-Premier Ri Yong Nam urges Seoul to “implement issues specified in the [Pyongyang] joint declaration and Panmunjom declaration.” Otherwise, “how can [inter-Korean talks] happen?”

: In Vladivostok to attend the 5th Eastern Economic Forum, DPRK Vice-Premier Ri Yong Nam urges Seoul to “implement issues specified in the [Pyongyang] joint declaration and Panmunjom declaration.” Otherwise, “how can [inter-Korean talks] happen?”

:  Ahead of the first anniversary of the opening of a permanent inter-Korean liaison office at Kaesong on Sept. 14, the ROK Ministry of Unification (MOU) confirms that once again the two sides’ co-heads will skip their supposedly weekly meeting. They have not met since the second US-DPRK summit in Hanoi in February.

:  In Vladivostok to attend the 5th Eastern Economic Forum, DPRK Vice-Premier Ri Yong Nam urges Seoul to “implement issues specified in the [Pyongyang] joint declaration and Panmunjom declaration.” Otherwise, “how can [inter-Korean talks] happen?”

: In Vladivostok to attend the 5th Eastern Economic Forum, DPRK Vice-Premier Ri Yong Nam urges Seoul to “implement issues specified in the [Pyongyang] joint declaration and Panmunjom declaration.” Otherwise, “how can [inter-Korean talks] happen?”

:  The left-leaning International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADLclaims that 12 North Korean waitresses who defected en masse to the South from China in 2016 were in effect abducted. Visiting both Koreas, the IADL’s investigative team received full assistance from the DPRK; but ROK authorities refused co-operation, so they did not actually meet the women. IADL’s full report is later published on Sept. 30.

:  The left-leaning International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADLclaims that 12 North Korean waitresses who defected en masse to the South from China in 2016 were in effect abducted. Visiting both Koreas, the IADL’s investigative team received full assistance from the DPRK; but ROK authorities refused co-operation, so they did not actually meet the women. IADL’s full report is later published on Sept. 30.

:  The left-leaning International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADLclaims that 12 North Korean waitresses who defected en masse to the South from China in 2016 were in effect abducted. Visiting both Koreas, the IADL’s investigative team received full assistance from the DPRK; but ROK authorities refused co-operation, so they did not actually meet the women. IADL’s full report is later published on Sept. 30.

: DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) holds a rare second session. Belying expectations in Seoul of fresh policy announcements (see Aug. 26), this is mainly devoted to constitutional changes further cementing Kim Jong Un’s position as chief of the executive branch, as well as head of everything else.

: DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) holds a rare second session. Belying expectations in Seoul of fresh policy announcements (see Aug. 26), this is mainly devoted to constitutional changes further cementing Kim Jong Un’s position as chief of the executive branch, as well as head of everything else.

: MOU admits that while “it would be great to hold joint events”, South Korea will mark the first anniversary on Sept. 19 of the Pyongyang inter-Korean summit without North Korea’s participation. Nor has the North been notified of the South’s planned events.

: MOU says Pyongyang has not replied to its offer to return the body of a presumed North Korean, found in the Imjin river at Paju near the DMZ in Aug. 14.

: Ahead of the DPRK parliament’s rare second session this year, MOU calls that “a good opportunity for it to announce inside and out its policy direction or an evaluation on the businesses it has carried out.” This turns out to be quite mistaken (see Aug. 29).

: North Korea test-fires what the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) presume to be two more SRBMs, this time from Sondok, south of Hamhung on the east coast. They travel some 235 miles, in the seventh such test in less than a month. A day later, DPRK media report this as being a “newly developed super-large multiple rocket launcher” system (MRLS), once again under Kim Jong Un’s personal guidance.

: MOU says it still hopes to send 50,000 tons of rice to North Korea via the UN World Food Programme (WFP) by end-September, despite Pyongyang’s reported refusal to accept aid from the South.

: Quoting an unnamed official, Yonhap says South Korea is mulling whether to invite North Korea to the 8th vice-minister level Seoul Defense Dialogue (SDD), to be held on Sept. 4-6. In the event it decides not to.

: KCNA weighs in on the US-ROK negotiations over cost-sharing for USFK. It attacks Washington as “greedy” and “gangster-like,” and also Seoul for being “servile.”

: Rodong Sinmun lambastes the joint US-ROK exercises as “an open hostility to and unpardonable military provocation against the DPRK” and “a saber-rattling for making a preemptive attack on the DPRK from A to Z.”

: Minister of Unification Kim Yeon-chul restates the Moon administration’s commitment to building a ‘peace economy’ on the peninsula, despite Pyongyang scorning this notion as “remarks that make the boiled head of a cow provoke a side-splitting laughter.”

: DPRK media insult Park Jie-won, a veteran ROK politician heavily involved in the late Kim Dae-jung’s ‘Sunshine’ policy, as “a tramp and dirty man” who “wagged his ill-smelling tongue.” Park had criticized the North’s Aug. 16 missile launch as (inter alia) irreverent to the memory of the late Chung Ju-yung, founder of the Hyundai conglomerate and a major funder of ‘Sunshine,’ who was born near Tongchon.

: North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country (CPRC) reacts to Moon’s Aug. 15 speech with derision and insults. Calling “the south Korean chief executive” “an impudent guy rare to be found,” the CPRC says: “[W]e have nothing to talk any more with the south Korean authorities nor have any idea to sit with them again.”

: Calling Pyongyang’s insults against President Moon (see above) “a rude act” that “crossed the line”, MOU says, rather mildly: “We express deep regret over North Korea’s slander made one day after Liberation Day, the nation’s biggest celebratory day.”

: North Korea launches two SRBMs from Tongchon in Kangwon province, the closest site yet this year to the DMZ and South Korea. Once again Kim Jong Un presides; As KCNA puts it, “Juche shells were fired in the presence of the Supreme Leader.”

: In a speech on Liberation Day (from Japan in 1945: a public holiday in both Koreas), President Moon renews his call to North Korea to build shared prosperity on the peninsula. But he also refers to “worrying actions,” and adds: “If there is dissatisfaction, it too should be raised and discussed at the negotiating table.

: Yonhap cites an unnamed “government source” as confirming that the two Koreas’ spy chiefs met secretly in April. National Intelligence Service (NIS) Director Suh Hoon met Jang Kum Chol, who Seoul says replaced Kim Yong Chol as head of the WPK United Front Department (UFD) after the failure of the second US-DPRK summit.

: Seoul police reveal that the bodies of a North Korean defector mother and son were found in their apartment on July 31. They may have starved to death two months earlier. This prompts an outpouring of concern as to how no safety net prevented such a tragedy.

: Citing a leaked text of the latest report of the UN Panel of Experts set up to monitor implementation of sanctions on the DPRK, AP reports that the ROK was the main victim (ten cases) of 35 DPRK cyberattacks, thought to have netted Pyongyang up to $2 billion in total. (The report is officially published on Sept. 5; see section 57, page 26.)

: Refuting Pyongyang’s criticisms of the US-ROK exercise, MOU says this is “not a field training aimed at the North, but a joint command post drill intended to prepare for the transfer of wartime operational control (from Washington to Seoul) … It is not a violation of North-South military agreements.” The North’s comments do “not help advance inter-Korean relations at all.”

: A director general at the DPRK Ministry of Foreign Affairs mocks and insults “the south Korean authorities” for changing the name of US-ROK joint exercises, using startlingly undiplomatic language: “Shit, though hard and dry, still stinks even if it is wrapped in a flowered cloth.”

: Radio Free Asia (RFA) again claims North Korea is selling products pilfered from South Korean companies that invested in Kaesong, citing a large batch of rice cookers sent to China. (See also May 24.)

: US-ROK joint military exercises commence. Scaled down and renamed from the former Ulchi Freedom Guardian summer maneuvers (cancelled in 2018), these comprise four days of “crisis management staff training” (Aug. 5-8), followed by a 10-day “Combined Command Post Training” (Aug. 11-20).” Both are largely computer simulations, rather than mobilization of actual troops and equipment.

: As ROK relations with Japan deteriorate after Tokyo imposes trade sanctions, President Moon tells his Cabinet that “the Korean economy can catch up with Japan’s quickly if a peace economy is achieved on the peninsula through inter-Korean economic cooperation.”

:   MOU says that on July 24 South Korea proposed working-level talks with the North about forming unified teams for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics in four sports, as agreed in February. Its spokesman adds that “discussions are under way”, but inter-Korean sports exchanges “have shown little progress due to the North’s passive attitude.” Separately, the ministry says that the North has rejected a proposal by a South Korean civic group to hold a joint Liberation Day event on Aug. 15, to mark the end of Japanese occupation in 1945.

: (South) Korea Football Association (KFA) says its Northern counterpart has told the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) it will host an inter-Korean soccer match in  Pyongyang on Oct. 15.

: Korean People’s Army (KPA) soldier crosses the DMZ by swimming in the Imjin river near Paju to defect to South Korea.

: Seoul announces that the third and last new hiking trail along the southern side of the DMZ, starting from Paju and including a demolished guardpost, will open on Aug. 10.)

: ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) report that the DPRK has launched two SRBMs, seemingly of a new type, from a presumed mobile launcher on Hodo Peninsula near Wonsan. They flew for some 690 and 430 km. Seoul expresses “strong concerns.”

: MOU reveals that North Korea is refusing to accept the South’s offer (made via the UN WFP) of 50,000 tons of rice, citing upcoming joint US-ROK military exercises.

: FFNK does it again (see June 25). The defector activist group reveals that on July 20 it launched 20 balloons carrying 500,000 leaflets, 2,000 dollar bills, 1,000 USB drives and 500 booklets across the DMZ from Yeoncheon, north of Seoul.

: Opening what Yonhap calls “an exposition on the seas around North Korea,”  Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul calls for progress in stalled inter-Korean maritime cooperation, such as a joint fishing area: “If we can seize this opportunity and connect the seas of the South and North, the destiny of the Korean Peninsula will dramatically change.”

: Apologizing again for the Samcheok boat incident, ROK Defense Minister Jeong says he has asked President Moon to decide whether to fire him. He keeps his job.

: MOU rebuffs as “absolutely not true” a claim by the Chosun Ilbo that government support for civic groups’ projects to help Northern defectors’ settlement has been halved. On the contrary, it “has been rather steadily on the rise”: from 383 million won ($324,300) in 2015 to 430 million won in 2017, 500 million won in 2018 and 522 million won in 2019.

: MOU says North Korea has not responded to an invitation to participate in the world’s largest swimming event: the biennial International Swimming Federation (FINA, in French), this year hosted by Gwangju and Yeosu cities in southwestern South Korea, which runs July 12-28.

: More than a month after Seoul agreed to let its investors visit the KIC (see May 17, above), MOU says that “North Korea is a little passive on this in the current situation.” Pressed further, the ministry clarifies that Pyongyang has not replied at all.

: President Moon’s approval rating reaches 52.4%, a seven-month high.

: Ministry of National Defense (MND) says it has sacked the commander of the ROK Army’s 8th Corps, referred two other senior military commanders to a disciplinary committee, and issued a warning to the JCS Chairman over the Samcheok boat incident.

: President Moon tells his Cabinet that the Kim-Trump meeting at Panmunjom on June 30 was a “de facto declaration of an end to hostile relations and the beginning of a full-fledged peace era,” even though no new accord was signed.

: Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong Un meet for the first time since September 2018, at Panmunjom. They shake hands and speak briefly as Moon escorts Donald Trump to his slightly longer (50 minutes) third meeting with Kim, in which Moon does not participate.

: In the same group interview, Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul suggests that the KIC and the Mount Kumgang resort could be reopened even before sanctions relief, so as to advance denuclearization.

: In a joint written interview with Yonhap and six foreign news agencies, Moon Jae-in anticipates the two Koreas exchanging military information and observing each other’s exercises – if existing confidence-building accords are fully implemented.

: Fighters for a Free North Korea (FFNK), a group of defectors and their supporters, says it marked the 69th anniversary of the outbreak of the 1950-53 Korean War by launching 20 propaganda balloons across the DMZ from Incheon, west of Seoul.

:   ROK Coast Guard and Navy see off a small DPRK fishing boat that had entered Southern waters northeast of Dokdo. The North Korean Navy had requested its rescue via a military hotline, but the crew insisted their engine was working.

: ROK Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo apologizes, after the embarrassing truth emerges of military failure and cover-up. The small DPRK boat (see above) had neither drifted South nor been apprehended at sea. Actually it crossed the maritime border, spent three days in Southern waters, then entered and tied up in the South’s Samcheok port, where its crew hailed a passing civilian – all of this entirely undetected and unchallenged.

: In a wide-ranging interview, Vice Unification Minister Suh Ho says: “I think we need to find an exquisite procedure (sic) with regard to resumption of the Kaesong complex and Mount Kumgang tours in the process of denuclearization.”

: MOU says two of the four DPRK boat people, who wanted to go home, were returned via Panmunjom today. The other two expressed a wish to defect. In further details, it is now revealed that the tiny (1.8 ton) wooden boat was first spotted by a civilian, “quite close to a seawall” near the ROK port of Samcheok. But it is still claimed to have been adrift.

: Yonhap says, the Blue House “publicly tone[s] down its expectations for an early inter-Korean summit.” With China’s Xi Jinping now headed for Pyongyang, this is an admission that President Moon’s professed hopes last week (see June 12) are unrealistic.

: Seoul’s military vows to tighten vigilance, amid criticism that a DPRK fishing boat had entered ROK waters undetected (see June 15). Still claiming the vessel was “found adrift”, the JCS says that while overall coastal and maritime defense operations had proceeded “normally”, its radar operation system has “elements that need to be complemented.”

: DPRK media use the 19th anniversary of the first inter-Korean summit (which is not being celebrated jointly) to praise that event. They also laud 2018’s Kim-Moon summits as “milestones for peace, prosperity and unification.”

: Yonhap reports that a North Korean fishing boat with four crew was “found adrift in South Korean waters off the east coast,” having “drifted [South] due to an engine problem”. This account later turns out to be falsified. See also June 17, 18 and 20 below.

: DPRK website Uriminzokkiri denounces Ulchi Taegeuk – the ROK’s new scaled-down civilian-military drill, held from May 27-30 – as “a provocative military exercise explicitly targeting us as the main enemy.”

: Suh Ho, who in May replaced Chun Hae-sung as vice unification minister, pays his first visit to the inter-Korean liaison office at Kaesong (he is its co-head ex officio). He meets ROK staff there, but not his DPRK counterpart Jon Jong Su, since Pyongyang once again cancels the supposedly weekly meeting of co-heads; none has been held since February.

: At Panmunjom, Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong delivers a wreath and letter of condolence from the DPRK leader over the death of Kim Dae-jung’s widow, Lee Hee-ho, who died on June 10 aged 96. There is no message for Moon Jae-in. DPRK media publicize all this, which some in Seoul see as encouraging.

: Speaking in Oslo, President Moon says: “I think it’s desirable (for me) to meet Chairman Kim Jong Un, if possible” before US President Donald Trump visits Seoul at the end of June. He adds: “I am calling for an early meeting between Chairman Kim and President Trump.”

: Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) report that the ROK Navy towed a DPRK fishing boat, found drifting with engine trouble in Southern waters in the East Sea, back into Northern waters, having ascertained that all six crew wished to go home. Pyongyang used the inter-Korean military hotline to request their rescue and repatriation.

: Choson Sinbo, a newspaper published by pro-DPRK Koreans in Japan, urges Seoul to “make a courageous decision to take practical action, not just words, in tackling the current stalemate in lockstep with North Korean compatriots.” If it does this, “there will be an answer from the North.”

: Minju Joson, daily paper of the DPRK Cabinet, calls the recent meeting in Seoul between ROK Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan a “clear manifestation of the ambition [to] militarily crush” North Korea.

: ROK sends the $8 million it pledged for aid to the DPRK (see May 17) to two UN agencies. WFP receives $4.5 million and UNICEF $3.5 million.

: Speaking in Helsinki at the start of a visit to three Nordic nations, President Moon sounds upbeat: “I believe that we will be able to resume ….dialogue between the two Koreas and between the US and North Korea in the near future.”

: MOU says Pyongyang has not replied to its offer to jointly fight African swine fever. Nor has it even officially informed Seoul of its new outbreak, despite an inter-Korean agreement in November to share information on contagious diseases.

: A propos an outbreak of highly contagious African swine fever in the northern DPRK, MOU says: “We will soon launch discussions with North Korea through the joint liaison office.”

: Yonhap quotes DPRK Vice Sports Minister Won Kil U as reaffirming, in a Chinese TV interview (date and channel unspecified), the North’s readiness to form a joint team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics: “We have a willingness to do (it), holding hands with South Korea.” That would need planning; but Pyongyang is not replying to Seoul’s messages.

: The DPRK website Uriminzokkiri denounces South Korea’s plan to buy SM-2 Block IIIB ship-to-air missiles and related equipment from the US, adding: “There is actually no end if we are to list all the sneaky acts done by the south Korean military that destroy the peace mood on the peninsula and heighten tensions.”

: Citing “multiple” ROK government sources, the conservative Seoul daily Dong-A Ilbo claims that in January Seoul offered rice and other aid for Pyongyang to reopen the KIC and Mount Kumgang tourist resort. The North refused, demanding cash instead – which would breach UN sanctions. The South then offered twice as much rice (amount unspecified), but was again rebuffed. MOU denies this story, calling it “not true at all.”

: In apparent reaction to the ROK’s latest offer of aid (see May 17), though without citing that specifically, two second-tier DPRK websites, Tongil Sinbo and DPRK Today, reiterate Pyongyang’s position (see May 12) that humanitarian issues are “non-core and secondary.” They accuse Seoul of wanting to “show off … and manipulate public opinion rather than improving inter-Korean relations.”

: Rebutting a report by Radio Free Asia (RFA) that North Korea has sold off equipment belonging to South Korean companies at the KIC, Yonhap quotes an unnamed official of one such investor as saying that ROK officials who visited Kaesong last year to set up the inter-Korean liaison office there found factory buildings locked and sealed. (But see also Aug. 9, below.)

: South Korea submits on the deadline its roster alone for the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Women’s Hockey Series Finals in Ireland: a qualifying event for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In February the two Koreas agreed to field joint teams in qualifiers for women’s field hockey, women’s basketball, judo and rowing. Despite this, North Korea has ignored all the South’s requests to arrange joint training and other practicalities.

: Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul says “discussions are under way” with North Korea for Southern investors in the KIC to visit Kaesong (see May 17). He gives no details. As of mid-September no such visit has yet taken place. (See also July 4.)

: North Korean website Uriminzokkiri criticizes South Korea for its recent bilateral working group talks with the US. Falsely calling that meeting “secret,” it says this proves that Seoul has “yet to break away from a policy of dependence on foreign forces.”

: MOU announces two decisions. South Korea is to donate $8 million via UN agencies for projects supporting nutrition and health of children and pregnant women in North Korea. It will also, at the ninth time of asking, allow Southern companies invested at Kaesong to visit the shuttered KIC, to check on the condition of their equipment and property there….

: MOU rebuffs any suggestion that falling market prices for rice in North Korea mean that its food situation is not so serious after all, saying “We recognize the assessment compiled by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as official and objective indicators.” The two UN bodies’ latest report, published on May 3, claims that (in WFP’s own headline) “After worst harvest in ten years, 10 million people in DPRK face imminent food shortages.”

: Radio Pyongyang says South Korea has no right to criticize what it calls a “normal … strike drill” (see May 4). This launch “was not a violation of a promise as it was neither … an intermediate range missile nor an intercontinental ballistic missile.” It calls Seoul’s (actually rather mild) remonstrations “a shameless complaint from the ones who lost the right to talk … by recklessly infringing upon the North-South military agreement, sticking to secret hostile acts with the US.”

: MND spokesperson says that Seoul “will continue to beef up [its missile defense] capabilities aimed at effectively fending off threats from all directions.” She also reveals that military communication channels with the North are operating normally. Another anonymous ROKG source confirms to Yonhap that the inter-Korean military hotlines are in use twice a day: “But exchanges of opinions via those hotlines on how to implement the inter-Korean military pact have come to a halt, which I believe will be temporary.”

: Poll commissioned by the Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU), a state think-tank in Seoul, finds that for the first time since polling began in 2016 more than half of South Koreans (51.4 percent) say their government should pursue dialogue with North Korea. Yet although those regarding the North as a trustworthy partner rose from 8.8 percent in 2017 to 33.5 percent now, a larger proportion (39.2 percent) still distrust the Kim regime.

: Yonhap quotes an unnamed military official as saying the ROK is still not in a position to confirm whether what the DPRK fired on May 9 were ballistic missiles, as almost all other expert sources – including the Pentagon – are claiming.

: Korean-language DPRK propaganda website Meari (Echo) criticizes the South’s emphasis on aiding the North: “It would be a deception of the public sentiment … to make a fuss as if a few humanitarian projects, which are far from the demands of the nation, would lead to big progress in inter-Korean relations … while putting fundamental issues … on the back burner.” It urges Seoul to focus on implementing summit agreements instead.

: DPRK Today, a China-based North Korean website, urges South Korea to reopen the joint venture Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), abruptly shut by then-President Park Geun-hye in 2016. It claims that this “is not an issue that needs Washington’s approval. The South is giving an excuse for foreign forces to intervene in cooperative projects.”

: Won Hyung-joon, a South Korean violinist and orchestra director, and Kim Song Mi, a China-based North Korean soprano, give a joint concert in Shanghai. Won is a long-time advocate of inter-Korean musical cooperation; this was his individual initiative. The duo had been due to perform together in Jeju last December, but that event was cancelled.

: MOU deputy spokesperson Lee Eugene insists: “There is no change in [the Moon administration’s] position that it is necessary to provide humanitarian assistance to the North from a humanitarian and compatriots’ perspective.”

: Regarding potential ROK food aid to the DPRK in the light of the latter’s recent missile tests, MOU deputy spokesperson insists: “There is no change in [the Moon administration’s] position that it is necessary to provide humanitarian assistance to the North from a humanitarian and compatriots’ perspective.” However, “the government plans to sufficiently collect opinions from the public in the process.” (See also May 12.)

: North Korea launches two apparent SRBMs from Kusong-ri, north of Pyongyang. Again Kim Jong Un is present. The Blue House calls this “very worrisome” and unhelpful for efforts to reduce tensions.

: Interviewed by KBS hours after Pyongyang’s latest missile launch, President Moon says: “I’d like to warn North Korea that if such behavior … is repeated, it could make the current dialogue and negotiation phase difficult.”

: Effectively confirming that its test moratorium is over, the DPRK launches two more apparent SRBMs from Kusong-ri, north of Pyongyang. Again Kim Jong Un is present. The Blue House calls this “very worrisome” and unhelpful for efforts to reduce tensions.

: Interviewed by the Korean Broadcasting Service (KBS) just after Pyongyang’s latest missile launch, President Moon says: “I’d like to warn North Korea that if such behavior … is repeated, it could make the current dialogue and negotiation phase difficult.”

: Data from South Korea’s Ministry of Unification (MOU) show that inter-Korean contacts – measured by permissions the ministry grants to South Koreans to go North – are falling. From 6,689 in 2018 (full year), the number declined to 617 in 2019 so far.

: Yonhap, the ROK’s quasi-official news agency, reports that the UN Command (UNC) has approved partial opening of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ, the de facto inter-Korean border) for two hiking trails, in Cheorwon and Paju. A third “peace trail,” in Goseong on the east coast, was opened on April 27 to mark the anniversary of 2018’s Panmunjom Summit. (All this is on the South’s side of the border; there is no North Korean involvement.)

: Exactly one month after his confirmation as the new ROK Unification Minister (MOU), Kim Yeon-chul makes his first visit to North Korea – if only as far as the joint liaison office at Kaesong. Briefly meeting DPRK officials stationed there, he exchanges pleasantries but does not discuss any substantive issues, such as missiles or food aid.

: Blue House releases an English text of “The Greatness of the Ordinary”: a long op-ed by President Moon for the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung, which publishes it on May 9.

: Blue House (Cheong Wa Dae, South Korea’s presidential office) releases an English text of “The Greatness of the Ordinary”: a long op-ed by President Moon Jae-in for the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung, which publishes it on May 9. With unfortunate timing, this includes a claim that “the sounds of gunfire have disappeared in the air, on the sea and on the ground around the Korean Peninsula.”

: Ending a 17-month moratorium on such testing, North Korea fires a volley of projectiles into the East Sea from Hodo-ri, near Wonsan. Kim Jong Un presides. After some initial confusion in Seoul, observers conclude that these involved two types of large-caliber multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) and a new short-range ballistic missile (SRBM).

: Ending a 17-month moratorium on such testing, North Korea fires a volley of projectiles into the East Sea from Hodo-ri, near Wonsan. Kim Jong Un presides. After some initial confusion in Seoul, observers conclude that these involved two types of large-caliber multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) and a new short-range ballistic missile (SRBM).

: MOU says it will spend two weeks testing newly renovated nationwide facilities for family reunions via videolink.

: South Korea stages a concert at Panmunjom on the anniversary of Moon and Kim’s first summit there.

: Japanese daily Mainichi Shimbun reveals leaked details of North Korea’s never-published 2016 Five-Year Plan, acquired somehow by a South Korean researcher. Inter alia, so as to reduce economic dependence on China this advocates boosting trade with Russia – but does not mention either South Korea or Japan, both formerly major trade partners.

: MOU confirms that supposedly weekly meetings between the inter-Korean liaison office’s joint directors have not been held for two months: since Feb. 22, when the North sent a stand-in. The two co-heads of the office – ROK Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung, and the DPRK’s Jon Jong Su – last met on Jan. 25.

: Under the headline “North severs contacts in South,” the center-right Seoul daily JoongAng Ilbo cites several unnamed Southern NGOs who say that their Northern counterparts are cold-shouldering them: no longer replying to fax and phone messages. Some claim that Kim Jong Un has personally forbidden such contacts.

: Moon Jae-in says: “I hope the two Koreas will have another summit without being restrained by the venue and format,” given the need for “concrete and substantive discussions” that will yield “fruits.” Critics insist it is Kim Jong Un’s turn to come to Seoul.

: Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports that North Korea is trying to buy South Korean high-yielding rice seeds via traders in China. The latter are reluctant, as PRC Customs inspections for farm products are stringent. They wonder why Pyongyang doesn’t simply ask Seoul, which in the ‘Sunshine’ era allowed civic groups to supply such seeds.

: Running to a rare second day, the SPA hears a long and tough policy speech by Kim Jong Un. Inter alia Kim upbraids South Korea for continuing war games with the US and not implementing last year’s accords, while “pos[ing] as a meddlesome ‘mediator.’”

: First session of the 14th SPA, “elected” in March, is held in Pyongyang. As usual there is a budget speech with no hard numbers. Personnel changes include a titular head of state, Choe Ryong Hae, replacing Kim Yong Nam who at 90 has retired; and a new premier, Kim Jae Ryong, replacing Pak Pong Ju who has been moved to another post.

: Two rival global organizations in Taekwondo – the DPRK-backed International Taekwondo Federation (ITF), and the more widely recognized ROK-backed World Taekwondo (WT) – stage joint demonstration events in Lausanne and Geneva, to mark the 25th anniversary of Taekwondo’s acceptance as an Olympic sport.

: Kim Jong Un chairs the fourth plenary session of the seventh term Workers’ Party of Korea Central Committee (WPK CC). This key meeting of North Korea’s ruling party immediately precedes the annual spring session of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), the DPRK’s rubber-stamp parliament; see April 11-12.

: Uriminzokkiri attacks MOU for publishing the results of last year’s joint inspections of Northern railways, which found them in poor condition and in need of repair (see March 29, above). Calling this “disrespectful”, the DPRK website also criticizes the ministry more generally for poor performance, and the ROK government for kow-towing to Washington: “If South Korea is truly interested in North-South cooperation, it should tell the US what it should be told, instead of disclosing some clumsy report.”

: Kim Yeon-chul is sworn in as South Korea’s new minister of unification, despite the National Assembly’s failure to confirm him – which is not mandatory. The conservative opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) calls him unacceptably “pro-North.”

: MOU says South Korea has shared information on a serious forest fire in its northeastern border region with North Korea via the Kaesong liaison office.

: DPRK website Meari accuses the ROK of excessive caution toward the North: “Talks of prudence by the South Korean authorities are an evasion of responsibility over implementing North-South declarations promised in front of the whole nation, and an overt surrender to the pressure from the US and the conservatives.”

: The ROK military begins de-mining and search operations for MIA remains at Arrowhead Ridge, a Korean War battle site in the central DMZ. This was meant to be a joint operation, but this year the North has not responded to Southern attempts to set a schedule.

: MOU releases findings from last year’s joint inspections of DPRK roads and railways. Both the west and east coast main rail lines, totaling 800 miles in length, “are in serious condition,” with erosion and damage to rails. Tunnels and bridges are a particular concern: some bridges 70-100 years old (i.e., built by Japan) have never been renovated. Highways, though newer, are no better. On the 100 mile-long main road from the border (Kaesong) north to Pyongyang, completed in 1992, there was high risk of rock slides in 33 places and 90 bridges were cracked, as were tunnels. (See also April 9 below.)

: The IOC announces that it has approved the two Koreas’ proposal to form some unified teams and march together at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.

: Entire DPRK staff of the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong leaves, abruptly and mysteriously, citing “instructions from higher authority.” Most return on March 25 after the weekend, simply saying “we came to do our shift as usual.” By March 29 the Northern complement is back to normal.

: Washington Post headline reads: “After Hanoi breakdown, Moon’s credibility as U.S.-Korean intermediary is on the line”.

: South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) says it will continue to pursue cooperation and exchanges with North Korea. Plans include joint teams in four sports at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics; a joint bid to co-host the 2032 summer Olympics; and inviting the North to various sports meets in the South. MCST will also “push for joint projects to compile a unified Korean-language dictionary, unearth historic relics at the Manwoldae site in the North’s border town of Kaesong, and conduct a joint survey of ancient tomb murals in Pyongyang.”

: As part of a wider Cabinet reshuffle affecting seven portfolios, President Moon nominates Kim Yeon-chul, head of the Korean Institute of National Unification (KINU – a think-tank under MOU) as minister of unification, to replace Cho Myoung-gyon.

: Asked on background whether Washington is considering allowing sanctions exemptions so that key inter-Korean economic projects can resume, a senior State Department official (presumably Special Representative Stephen Biegun) bluntly replies: “No.”

: DPRK’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) attacks the new Dong Maeng exercise (replacing the former Foal Eagle), which runs March 4-12, as a “violent violation” of last year’s agreements between Pyongyang, Washington and Seoul.

: Blue House announces that Choi Jong-kun, a professor of international relations, has been appointed as the new presidential secretary for peace at the National Security Office (NSO). Choi was previously secretary for arms control within the NSO.

: Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon (soon to be sacked) says Seoul will discuss with Washington ways to prepare for future resumption of the Kaesong and Kumgang joint North-South projects, including sanctions waivers. (But see March 7, below.)

: New York Times headline reports that “South Korea Awaits 2nd Kim-Trump Summit With Both Hope and Fear.”

: Citing unnamed “officials” and a raft of concrete cases, Yonhap reports that ROK local governments are gearing up for expanded cooperation with the DPRK, expecting fresh momentum for peace from the upcoming Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi. Sports, culture, education and economy are seen as promising areas for such activity.

: The sports ministers of North and South Korea meet Thoma Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, at IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. Bach says they plan to march together at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics and to enter joint teams in four sports. He adds: “We warmly welcome the historic initiative of the two Koreas to put forward a joint Korean candidature for the Olympic Games 2032.”

: MOU says Pyongyang has not responded to its proposal to jointly mark the centenary of the March 1, 1919 protests against the Japanese occupation of Korea,  as agreed at last September’s Pyongyang summit. On Feb. 21, the North finally replies in the negative, saying circumstances do not allow this – but offering no further explanation.

: In the first (and last?) North-South civilian event of 2019, some 250 South Koreans from a range of NGOs – including religious groups, labor unions, and organizations of women, youth and farmers – join Northern counterparts at the Mount Kumgang resort on the DPRK’s east coast for a delayed New Year get-together.

: ROK Olympic Committee chooses Seoul over Busan as the venue city for its bid to co-host the 2032 Summer Olympics with the DPRK. North Korea is not known to have conducted any equivalent exercise, but only Pyongyang has the necessary facilities.

: A 22-strong delegation from Hyundai Asan, which developed and ran tours to North Korea’s Mount Kumgang east coast resort from 1998 to 2008 (when Seoul suspended the program after a Southern tourist was shot dead), visits Kumgang-san for a ceremony to mark the firm’s 20th anniversary. MOU hastens to point out that this does not mean tourism is about to resume, despite rumors.

: MOU data highlight the urgency of family reunions, currently stalled. Out of 133,208 South Koreans who have applied since 1988, the majority (77,221) are now dead. Of the 55,987 still alive, most (62%) are now aged 80 or over.

: Official of the Blue House (Cheong Wa Dae, the ROK presidential office and residence), as usual anonymous, tells Yonhap: “An inter-Korean summit will naturally be the next step following the second North Korea-U.S. summit.” Yonhap’s article is headlined: “S. Korea to push for fourth Moon-Kim summit to set stage for denuclearization.” Such optimism is widespread in Seoul at this juncture.

: In the first such sectoral talks of 2019 – and the last, as of mid-May – the two Koreas meet in Kaesong to discuss connecting cross-border roads and modernizing those in the North, following surveys last year. They exchange documents, discuss a DPRK delegation visiting the ROK, and agree to plan future meetings and exchanges. None of that happens.

: North Korea’s leading daily Rodong Sinmun, organ of the ruling Workers’ Party (WPK), calls on South Korea to stop “war exercises,” which it calls “a dangerous military action that runs counter to the current trend … toward our people’s reconciliation, peace and stability.” Meanwhile the North’s million-strong Korean People’s Army (KPA) continues its own winter training exercises as usual.

: South Koream Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha says that the future of two suspended inter-Korean joint ventures, the Kaesong complex and tourism to Mt. Kumgang, depends on how diplomacy goes between North Korea and the US:

: In its latest biennial White Paper, the ROK Ministry of National Defense (MND) drops its characterization of the DPRK government and military as an “enemy.” It also deletes other terms now deemed provocative, including Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR) – a plan to take out the North’s leadership in case of war – and the Kill Chain strike platform.

: The DPRK website Uriminzokkiri, aimed at external audiences, says: “Active efforts should be made to expand and advance North-South cooperation and exchanges in all aspects.” It commends results achieved so far despite “brutal obstruction” from the outside. Meari, another North Korean site, even claims that “Had inter-Korean economic cooperation been pushed actively, the South’s economy would not be in a devastating state as it is today.”

: Saying more preparation is needed, MOU postpones delivering 200,000 doses of Tamiflu antiviral drugs and 50,000 early detection kits to the North, planned for Jan. 11. Seoul trade media earlier reported dismay among ROK pharmaceutical firms that the costly Roche original is being provided, rather than cheaper ROK-made generics; and also suspicion that Pyongyang may sell these on rather than use them itself.

: In his New Year press conference, ROK President Moon Jae-in calls on Pyongyang to take bolder steps toward denuclearization – and for the US to reward these.

: In his New Year press conference, Moon Jae-in calls on Pyongyang to take bolder steps toward denuclearization – and for the US to reward these.

: South Korea’s Ministry of Unification (MOU) says it will “consider various elements” before allowing companies who invested in the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) to visit the site and check the state of facilities there. It has refused six previous applications from them for such visits since then-President Park Geun-hye closed the KIC in early 2016.

: Thae Yong Ho, a senior North Korean diplomat who defected in 2016, in an open letter urges the former DPRK chargé d’affaires in Rome, Jo Song Gil, who is reportedly seeking asylum in the US, to choose South Korea instead. Thae calls this “an obligation, not a choice” which will accelerate reunification.

: Thae Yong Ho, a senior North Korean diplomat who defected in 2016, in an open letter urges the former DPRK chargé d’affaires in Rome, Jo Song-gil, who is reportedly seeking asylum in the US, to choose South Korea instead. Thae calls this “an obligation, not a choice” which will accelerate reunification.

: Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung, the ROK joint head of the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong, meets very briefly (just 20 minutes) with Kim Kwang Song, the DPRK’s vice-chief at the office, to discuss “pending issues.”

: North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un delivers his annual New Year address. Regarding North-South relations, he praises 2018’s achievements but warns that “joint military exercises with foreign forces …should no longer be permitted.”

: Kim Jong Un delivers his annual New Year address. Regarding North-South relations, he praises 2018’s achievements but warns that “joint military exercises with foreign forces …should no longer be permitted.”

: Blue House discloses that Kim Jong Un has sent Moon Jae-in a letter, regretting he did not make it to Seoul this year but hoping to meet “frequently” in 2019.

:  Approximately 100-strong ROK delegation, including the unification and transport ministers, crosses the DMZ to attend the symbolic groundbreaking ceremony for rail and road reconnection and modernization, held at the DPRK’s Panmun Station in Kaesong.

:  ROK Foreign Ministry, confirms that yesterday (just in time) the UN Security Council granted a sanctions waiver for tomorrow’s symbolic groundbreaking ceremony for relinking Northern and Southern roads and railways.

:  Ten-strong Southern team enters the North to inspect a short 4 km stretch of the main western Gyeongui highway.

:  Uriminzokkiri, a North Korean external propaganda website, calls South Korea “two-faced” for supporting a UN resolution passed by the General Assembly (for the 14th successive year) on Dec. 17 condemning DPRK human rights abuses.

:  MOU says it repatriated three DPRK sailors, and the body of a fourth, after the ROK Coast Guard rescued them and their boat found drifting in the East Sea on Dec. 20. No further details are given.

:  Ten-strong ROK team enters the DPRK by the east coast route, to conduct a three-day joint inspection of a 100-km section of highway from Goseong up to Wonsan.

:   ROK train, which covered 2,600 km over 18 days surveying the DPRK’s western and eastern main lines, is returned via Dorasan, north of Seoul.

:   Seoul city government estimates that co-hosting the 2032 Olympic games with Pyongyang would require a budget of around 3.9 trillion won ($3.44 billion).

: ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) confirm that the DPRK has demolished 10 guardposts in the DMZ. ROK has done the same. The two sides had planned to destroy 11 each, but decide to keep one apiece (albeit now disarmed) “in light of their historical value.”

:  South Korean officials and experts return home after completing a 10-day inspection of North Korea’s eastern railway line. The 28-strong team crosses the MDL in the eastern sector, by bus.

:  After sports talks led by vice-ministers in Kaesong, the two Koreas announce that they will meet the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne, Switzerland on Feb. 15 2019, to discuss their joint bid to co-host the 2032 Summer Olympic Games.

:  Senior officials from the two Koreas’ health ministries meet in Kaesong to discuss potential co-operation, including to control influenza.

:  The ROK Cabinet approves an MOU proposal to revise the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Act, so that any future curtailment of co-operation with the North must be reviewed by the Cabinet.

:  MOU says the budget allocated to its inter-Korean cooperation fund in 2019 will be 1.1 trillion won ($983.4 million): up 15 percent from 2018, and the first time since 2016 that this has exceeded a trillion won.

:  In a joint statement, the ROK Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) and the Ministry of National Defense declare that the two Koreas have completed their 35-day joint inspection of estuarine and coastal waterways along their western border. A day later, the (South) Korea Hydrographic and Oceanographic Agency (KHOA) reports that much dredging work is needed, especially in the estuary near Kaesong.

:  After a brief home break, South Korea’s rail inspection team heads back to the North: this time by bus, using the eastern land route.

: Media reports claim the South has suggested Dec. 12-14 as dates for Kim Jong Un to visit Seoul, but has gotten no reply yet. Such speculation persists throughout the month.

:  MOU says that a meeting today between the joint heads of the North-South liaison office at Kaesong – ROK Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung and Jon Chong Su, vice chairman of the DPRK Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country (CPRC) did not discuss Kim Jong Un visiting Seoul. (These meetings, set originally to be held weekly, are in fact taking place approximately monthly.)

:  ROK railway inspection team returns home, having completed a six-day joint survey of the DPRK’s western main line.

:  ROK military says that a Korean People’s Army (KPA) soldier defected earlier that day across the eastern sector of the DMZ.

:  A six-car South Korean train, with a 28-strong ROK inspection team aboard, crosses the DMZ to begin an 18-day joint inspection of DPRK railway lines.

:  ROK MND reports that (having secured an exemption from UNSC sanctions) it delivered optical and copper cable transmission equipment and communication conduits to the DPRK for use in the west coast inter-Korean military communication line.

: ROK MND  announces the completion of joint work to demolish 10 front-line guardposts on each side and de-mine a ridge in the DMZ, begun in October.

:  South Korea sends 50 tons of pesticide to the North, to treat disease affecting pine trees. The truck convoy crosses via the western land route, unloading in Kaesong.

:  Two Koreas agree that joint inspection of the North’s main west and east coast railway lines will begin on Nov. 30.

:  The first ever joint submission by the two Koreas to UNESCO succeeds. Meeting in Mauritius, the UN body’s World Heritage Committee agrees to inscribe ssirum (Korean traditional wrestling) as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

:  MND announces that yesterday and today ROK military planes flew 200 tons of tangerines from Jeju island to Pyongyang, as a return gift for the pine mushrooms sent by the DPRK.

:  The Blue House declares the North’s pine mushrooms safe to eat.

:  Two Koreas hold vice-ministerial talks in Kaesong on health cooperation.

: Two Koreas launch a month-long joint survey of the Han and Imjin River estuaries on their west coast border. Ten military and hydrographic experts from each side, in six ROK sonar-equipped vessels, will measure water depths to plot safe channels for navigation along a 70 km stretch of estuary and coast in both the ROK and DPRK.

:  Meeting in Kaesong, the two Koreas’ vice-ministers for sport agree to officially inform the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of their intent to co-host the 2032 Summer Olympics. They will also send a combined team to the world handball championships in January.

: Major provisions of September’s North-South military agreement take effect, including no-fly zones and restrictions on maneuvers within specified distances of the DMZ.

:  Kim Min-ki, a lawmaker of South Korea’s ruling Democratic Party (DP), tells reporters that the ROK National Intelligence Service (NIS) has observed North Koreans “conducting preparation and intelligence activities that seem to be in preparation for foreign inspectors’ visit” at Punggye-ri nuclear test site and the Sohae satellite launching ground.

:  Two Koreas hold what are officially the 10th Inter-Korean General-level Military Talks at Panmunjom to discuss implementation of the military agreement signed in September. They issue a six-point statement, reconfirming that accord’s various provisions and updating on concrete progress and future plans.

:  ROK Cabinet ratifies the Pyongyang Joint Declaration and military agreement. Opposition parties protest that this sidelines the National Assembly, where a bill to ratify the earlier Panmunjom Declaration remains bogged down in partisan wrangling.

: Two Koreas meet in Kaesong to discuss cooperation in forestry. They issue a four-point agreement, whose provisions include Southern aid to combat pine disease and for Northern tree nurseries, as well as ecosystem restoration.

:  High-level talks on implementing the Pyongyang Joint Declaration are held at Panmunjom. A seven-point agreement recommits to further talks and/or specific activities in seven areas: military, transport, forestry, health, sport, Red Cross, and art performances.

:  A 160-strong ROK delegation, mainly of NGOs and activists but including Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, flies to Pyongyang to participate in ceremonies marking the 11th anniversary of the second inter-Korean summit in 2007; the first time this has ever been thus commemorated. They fly back on Oct. 6.

: Moon and Kim and their entourages head north for a photo-opportunity on Mt. Paekdu, a sacred peak (Korea’s highest) on the Chinese border. The ROK party flies directly back to Seoul from Samjiyon airport in the northeastern DPRK.

:  The Blue House announces that, as in 2000 and 2007, North Korea has sent a gift of two tons of pine mushrooms, a Northern delicacy, to commemorate the recent summit. These will be distributed to members of separated families who could not meet North Korean family members in the latest reunions, in August. Only 100 out of 57,000 applicants, selected by lot, made the cut. Some in South Korea claim there is a risk that the mushrooms, harvested in the DPRK’s northeast, could be radioactive.

:  Moon and Kim sign a fresh agreement, the Pyongyang Joint Declaration. Their defense ministers also sign a major new accord, the “Agreement on the Implementation of the Historic Panmunjom Declaration in the Military Domain.”

:  President Moon Jae-in, with a large entourage including business leaders, flies into Pyongyang’s Sunan airport where they are greeted by Kim Jong Un.

: Working-level talks at Panmunjom finalize details of the impending summit.

:  North and South Korea open their new permanent liaison office at Kaesong.

: Working-level talks at Panmunjom finalize details of the impending summit. Moon will fly to Pyongyang on Sept. 18 with an almost 200-strong entourage, including business leaders. An ROK advance party will head North overland on Sept. 16.

:  North and South Korea open their new permanent liaison office at Kaesong.

: Working-level military talks are held at Panmunjom, lasting 17 hours. As usual no press statement is released. Yonhap reports that the two sides wrapped up a military agreement, which Kim and Moon will announce at their summit in Pyongyang next week.

: Working-level military talks are held at Panmunjom, lasting 17 hours. As usual no press statement is released. Yonhap reports that the two sides wrapped up a military agreement, which Kim and Moon will announce at their summit in Pyongyang next week.

: Seoul press reports hint at disquiet in the Blue House that North Korea has not yet responded to the South’s urgent request for a working-level meeting to fine-tune the practical details of President Moon’s summit visit to Pyongyang, now imminent. Logistics and security alike remain to be sorted out. (See next day ….)

: A 22-strong DPRK shooting squad flies home from Gimhae airport, via Beijing, after bagging two silver and two bronze medals in the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Championship held at Changwon in the ROK’s southeast.

: ROK government rejects opposition charges that it is playing down the expense of implementing the Panmunjom Declaration. Critics are contrasting MOU’s figure of 298.6 billion won ($264.8 million) with the ministry’s estimate a decade ago that similar projects envisaged in the 2007 inter-Korean summit would cost 14.3 trillion won.

: ROK Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) announces that joint North-South excavations at Manwoldae, the royal palace of the Koryo dynasty (918-1392 CE) in Korea’s then-capital Kaesong, will resume on Sept. 27 for three months. Seven rounds of joint archaeological work were conducted at the site between 2007 and 2015. In 2016 then-ROK President Park Geun-hye suspended the program amid rising inter-Korean tensions.

: In Vladivostok for the Eastern Economic Forum ROK Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon envisages “a new avenue opening for three-way cooperation among South and North Korea and Russia.”

: In Vladivostok for the Eastern Economic Forum, ROK Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon envisages “a new avenue opening for three-way cooperation among South and North Korea and Russia.”

: Center-right JoongAng Ilbo, Seoul’s leading daily, claims that the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) have completed a report comparing the two Koreas’ military strengths, which Moon Jae-in ordered ahead of the Pyongyang summit.

: Blue House Chief of Staff Im Jong-seok invites nine parliamentarians to accompany President Moon to Pyongyang. At least three decline. National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang pleads being too busy, while the leaders of two conservative opposition parties, the right-wing Liberty Korea Party (LKP) and the more centrist Bareunmirae, criticize the forthcoming summit as a “show-off without substance.”

: Floor leaders of South Korea’s three largest political parties reach an accord that the National Assembly will debate ratification of April’s Panmunjom Declaration after the third Moon-Kim summit. The government submits a motion on Sept. 11.

: Citing “multiple sources,” the center-right JoongAng Ilbo, Seoul’s leading daily, claims that the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) have completed a report comparing the two Koreas’ military strengths, which Moon Jae-in ordered ahead of the Pyongyang summit.

: Floor leaders of South Korea’s three largest political parties reach an accord that the National Assembly will debate ratification of April’s Panmunjom Declaration after the forthcoming third Moon-Kim summit. The government submits a motion on Sept. 11.

: In Pyongyang, parades and mass displays mark the 70th anniversary of the DPRK’s foundation. No ICBMs appear in the military parade, while the mass games stress economic development and conclude with a giant video of April’s Kim-Moon summit.

: Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation (KCRC), a quasi-official umbrella body representing some 200 South Korean NGOs, says it will meet its Northern counterpart in late October at Mount Kumgang to call for sincere implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration. Further details will be worked out by fax and email.

: In Pyongyang, parades and mass displays mark the 70th anniversary of the DPRK’s foundation. No ICBMs appear in the military parade, while the mass games stress economic development and conclude with a giant video of April’s Kim-Moon summit.

: Ahead of a state visit by Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Moon Jae-in tells the Indonesian newspaper Kompas that his goal is to make “irreversible progress” by the end of the year toward denuclearization and a permanent peace on the peninsula. He adds that the “special envoy’s visit [to Pyongyang] went well, and the results exceeded expectations.”

: ROK Ministry of Unification (MOU) spokesman Baik Tae-hyun says the two Koreas have reached agreement on all aspects of the planned inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong. A later report confirms that this will start work (24/7) on Sept. 14, with 15-20 staff drawn from each side.

: South Korea’s Foreign Ministry (MOFA) reports that on Sept. 6 the two Korean states wrote jointly to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to request that the Panmunjom Declaration be circulated as an official UN document.

: Latest Gallup Korea poll finds President Moon’s approval ratings, on the slide since mid-June, below 50 percent for the first time. Negative appraisals rise to 42 percent. While this is attributed mainly to economic dissatisfaction, media comment notes that North Korea is no longer a booster factor for Moon.

: Blue House (Cheongwadae, the ROK Presidential office and residence) says that on Sept. 11 Moon’s government will submit a bill to the National Assembly to formally ratify April’s Panmunjom Declaration.

: MOU spokesman Baik Tae-hyun says the two Koreas have reached agreement on all aspects of the planned inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong. A later report confirms that this will start work (24/7) on Sept. 14, with 15-20 staff drawn from each side.

: South Korea’s foreign ministry (MOFA) reports that on Sept. 6 the two Korean states wrote jointly to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to request that the Panmunjom Declaration, signed at April 27’s summit, be circulated as an official UN document.

: Blue House says that on Sept. 11 Moon’s government will submit a bill to the National Assembly to formally ratify April’s Panmunjom Declaration. (Previous efforts to that end have failed; see May 28, above. See also Sept. 10, below.)

: Chung Eui-yong announces that Moon Jae-in will visit Pyongyang on Sept. 18-20 for his third summit with Kim Jong Un. (Earlier speculation had predicted Sept. 12-13.)

: In Kaesong, the two Koreas’ cultural authorities discuss potential cooperation in several fields. They agree to resume a joint archaeological project; see Sept. 11, below.

: Chung Eui-yong announces that Moon Jae-in will visit Pyongyang on Sept. 18-20 for his third summit with Kim Jong Un. (Earlier speculation had predicted Sept. 12-13.)

: President Moon Jae-in’s special envoy, National Security Adviser Chung Eu-yong, flies to Pyongyang heading a five-person delegation (the same quintet as on March 5-6). They meet Kim Jong Un, who inter alia reaffirms his commitment to denuclearization amid warm words for Moon and for Donald Trump. The delegation flies home to Seoul the same evening and immediately reports back to Moon, at 9.44pm local time.

: President Moon’s special envoy, his national security adviser Chung Eu-yong, flies to Pyongyang heading a five-strong delegation (the same quintet as on March 5-6). They meet Kim Jong Un, who inter alia reaffirms his commitment to denuclearization amid warm words for Moon and for Donald Trump. The delegation flies home to Seoul the same evening and immediately reports back to Moon, at 21:44 local time.

: MND says it is requesting a budget of 46.7 trillion won ($42 billion) for 2019. If approved this will be an 8.2 per cent increase, the highest hike in a decade. The ROK defense budget is already larger than the DPRK’s entire national income.

: Reigniting a debate that has flared on and off since 1995, Yonhap claims that South Korea is again considering no longer calling North Korea its ‘main enemy’ in the next ROK defense white paper, due later this year.

: Amid many understandably emotional scenes, two rounds of reunions of separated families, the first such since Oct. 2015, are held at Mount Kumgang resort.

: While mainly competing separately, North and South Korea field combined teams in six events (mostly aquatic) at the Asian Games hosted by Jakarta and Pelambang, Indonesia. ‘Korea’ wins four medals, including gold in the women’s dragon boat.

: Fourth round of high-level talks is held at Panmunjom, in the Northern half. The two Koreas reaffirm the Panmunjom Declaration, and confirm that a third summit this year will be held in Pyongyang in September.

: A 64-strong team of DPRK trade unionists visits Seoul to play friendly soccer games against their ROK counterparts. This is the fourth such event; the first was in Pyongyang in 1999, then Changwon (ROK) in 2007, then Pyongyang again in 2015.

: In a series of articles on inter-Korean issues, the Korea Herald highlights the project to compile a comprehensive joint dictionary. Launched in 2005, this met 25 times in the ensuing decade but has been suspended since 2016. With this year’s thaw, the South side has faxed the North to try to arrange a meeting, but has yet to hear back.

: Two Koreas again hold high-level military talks at Panmunjom. No joint statement follows, but some media claim that “broad agreement” has been reached on areas such as disarming the Joint Security Area (JSA), and fewer guardposts in the DMZ.

: In its annual estimate of DPRK macroeconomic data (Pyongyang publishes no regular figures), the Bank of Korea, the ROK central bank, reports that North Korean GDP fell 3.5 percent in 2007, its worst result for 20 years. BoK attributes this to tighter sanctions.

: Media report that the two Koreas have fully restored their military hotline in the western sector.

: Kyodo reports that the UN Security Council permitted a sanctions exemption for South Korea to send 51 banned items – including fuel, optical cables, buses and trucks – to North Korea for use in restoring military hotlines.

: United Nations special rapporteur on North Korea, Tomás Ojea Quintana, whose usual beat is DPRK human rights abuses, calls for an investigation into how the ‘Ningbo 12’ came to South Korea, saying at least some were unwitting or unwilling.

: MOU announces that a 22-strong team of officials and workers will enter the North on July 9 to start repairing facilities at Mount Kumgang.

: Two Koreas meet at Panmunjom to discuss forestry cooperation. A four-point joint press release envisages working together in areas including modernization of tree nurseries, agroforestry, fighting forest fires, controlling erosion, and scientific exchanges. A site visit is planned for mid-July, and a working group will be set up to implement all of this.

: 100 South Korean basketball players, officials and press, led by Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, fly to Pyongyang in two ROK military planes. On July 4-5 they play four friendlies (Kim Jong Un does not show up) and have talks on sporting cooperation. Cho also holds talks with Kim Yong Chol. The visitors fly home on July 6.

: ROK Red Cross says the two Koreas have exchanged lists of candidates for August’s family reunions. The South sent 250 names, the North 200. The final 100 from each side will be chosen on July 25, based on their health and whether relatives have been located.

: South Korea’s MND says communications between the two Koreas’ navies have been restored for the first time since May 2008. At 9:00 an ROKN boat off Yeonpyeong Island (shelled by KPA artillery in 2010, among other clashes) contacted a nearby DPRK patrol vessel, which responded immediately.

: //www.unikorea.go.kr/eng_unikorea/news/releases/;jsessionid=RJUJeE+Ys1lSwQsPV3soEzTG.unikorea11?boardId=bbs_0000000000000034&mode=view&cntId=54189&category=&pageIdx=">page erroneously gives the date as June 26]The two Koreas hold talks at Panmunjom on road cooperation. A detailed joint statement agrees to modernize both eastern (Donghae) and western (Gyeongui) corridors, from Goseong as far as Wonsan and from Kaesong to Pyongyang respectively. Joint research teams will be formed, and joint surveys will begin in early August.

: Two Koreas hold talks at Panmunjom on railway cooperation. The three-strong delegations are led by ROK Vice Transport Minister Kim Jeong-ryeol and DPRK Vice Railways Minister Kim Yun Hyok. They agree to conduct a joint study on modernizing cross-border railways; starting on July 24 with the northern section of the Seou-Sinuiju west coast line, and thereafter proceeding to the east coast Kumgangsan-Sinuiju line.

: ROK Premier Lee Nak-yon says that asking the DPRK to move its heavy artillery back from the DMZ is under discussion in Seoul, but is not yet a formal proposal.

: At their first working-level (between colonels) military talks since 2011, held in Paju, the two Koreas discuss restoration of military hotlines. In 2010 a forest fire in the North destroyed the line in the eastern sector; the western one is in better shape.

: Meeting at Mount Kumgang in the southeastern DPRK, the two Koreas’ Red Cross organizations agree to hold separated family reunions – the first such since Oct. 2015 – there on August 20-26. They will also hold further meetings to discuss humanitarian issues.

: Citing unnamed ROKG sources, Yonhap  claims that at the recent military talks the South proposed that the Korean People’s Army (KPA) move its long-range artillery – thought to number over 14,000 pieces, including 5,500 multiple rocket launchers – back 30-40 km from the DMZ. It does not record the North’s reaction. MND later denies that Seoul made any such proposal (but see June 25).

: North and South Korea hold their first high-level military talks – originally set for May, but Pyongyang cancelled – in over a decade (since Dec. 2007) in the Northern sector of Panmunjom. KPA Lt. Gen. An Ik San quips that ROK Maj. Gen. Kim Do-gyun is the first South Korean in uniform ever to cross the Military Demarcation Line (MDL). They agree to fully restore all inter-Korean military hotlines, and discuss much else.

: Local elections in South Korea are a landslide for President Moon’s ruling liberal Democratic Party. On a 60 percent turnout, the highest ever, the DP wins the mayoral race in seven of eight major cities and the governorship in seven of nine provinces. The opposition LKP’s tally of these major posts is slashed from eight to just two.

: Chairman Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump meet in Singapore.

: A motion supporting the Panmunjom Declaration fails to pass in the ROK National Assembly. According to local media, the ruling Democratic Party (DP) agreed to postpone seeking formal parliamentary ratification, but the opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) reneged on an earlier agreement that it would support a more limited resolution.

: Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong Un hold a surprise second summit a month after the first; again at Panmunjom but this time on the Northern side, and two days after President Trump ‘cancels’ his own upcoming summit with Kim. Its swift reinstatement suggests that Kim asked Moon to mediate, and that he did so successfully.

: After a lengthy trek by train and bus from Wonsan to the DPRK’s remote northeast, selected foreign journalists – but no experts – witness big explosions which their hosts claim constitute the destruction of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. (See also May 12.)

: Pyongyang abruptly cancels inter-Korean high-level talks due that very day, lambasting US-ROK Max Thunder military exercises as “provocative.” The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) cites “the prevailing seriously awful situation that a mad-cap north-targeted war and confrontation racket are being kicked up in south Korea.” Further cancellations and diatribes follow during the ensuing week or so, but then cease.

: A press release from the DPRK Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) invites journalists from China, Russia, the US, the UK, and “south Korea” (sic), in that order, to witness the dismantling of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site later this month. MFA explains that space precludes letting more countries attend. Japan is a notable omission. (See also May 24.)

: Defying the ROK government’s urging, a week after police and local residents blocked their previous attempt, the activist NGO Fighters for a Free North Korea launches helium balloons towards the DPRK, carrying anti-Kim tracts and with banners reading “Do not be fooled by Kim Jong Un’s fake dialogue offer.”

: Yonhap, South Korea’s quasi-official news agency, claims that North Korea halved the size of the Korean People’s Army (KPA)’s annual tank firing contest that was held last week. Kim Jong Un had attended in 2016 and 2017, but not this year.

: MOU says it is trying to verify media reports that 12 North Korean waitresses – hereafter the ‘Ningbo 12’ – who arrived from China in 2016 may not all have defected voluntarily. Confirming what Pyongyang has long alleged, their manager claims he made a deal with the ROK’s spy agency, the National Intelligence Service (NIS). (See also July 10.)

: A propos what it calls “Kim’s alarming trip” to meet Xi Jinping again, the center-right Seoul daily JoongAng Ilbo editorializes: “The denuclearization game on the Korean Peninsula is like treading on thin ice. Once you stumble, everything falls.” In the same issue, by contrast, the JoongAng’s influential owner, Hong Seok-hyun, a former ROK ambassador in Washington, has a column entitled: “My hopes for North Korea,” which inter alia commends Kim Jong Un for his confidence, dignity and courtesy to Moon Jae-in.

: South Korea’s Foreign Ministry (MOFA) says the North is proposing a new international air route, connecting – albeit not directly – the flight information regions (FIR) of their major airports – Sunan near Pyongyang, and Incheon for Seoul.

: Hyundai Group – rump of the former chaebol, no longer connected to the now much larger Hyundai Motor – announces a new task force, headed by its chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun, to prepare for economic projects with North Korea – especially tourism to Mount Kumgang and Kaesong, suspended since 2008. Affiliate Hyundai Asan ran those businesses, but has struggled financially since their suspension.

: Seoul reveals that at the summit Moon handed Kim a USB stick containing a detailed blueprint for how the South could help rebuild the Northern economy, including new power plants and much more.

: The Blue House, South Korea’s presidential office, says Moon and Kim will at last use their new hotline once the date of Kim’s summit with Donald Trump is fixed. (So far as is publicly known, this does not happen; indeed, as of Sept. 9 the much-touted hotline has apparently yet to be used at all by the two leaders.)

: Seoul reveals that at their summit on April 27 Moon handed Kim a USB stick containing a detailed blueprint for how the South could help rebuild the Northern economy, including new power plants and much more.

: At the world table tennis championships in Halmstad, Sweden, the two Koreas, due to face off in the women’s quarter finals, instead gain permission to form a joint team. Korea advances to the semi-finals, but is defeated by Japan to take the bronze.

: South Korean pollster Realmeter reports that in the week since the summit Moon Jae-In’s popularity surged eight points to 78.3 percent, a record for any ROK leader after almost a year in post. (Moon took office on May 10, 2017; he still has four more years.)

: ROK Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon reports Kim Jong Un as saying  that Moon’s proposal to open liaison offices in Seoul and Pyongyang could be discussed. Cho adds that Kim’s grip on power is firm, and he has a “strong will” for economic development.

: As scheduled, South Korea begins dismantling its propaganda loudspeakers at the DMZ. MND says the North began doing the same earlier that day.

: In a half-hour phone call to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, President Moon asks the UN to endorse the Pyongyang Declaration and play a role in verifying North Korea’s commitment to denuclearization and peace.

: ROK Unification Minister (MOU) Cho Myoung-gyon reports Kim Jong Un as saying  that President Moon Jae-in’s proposal to exchange liaison offices in Seoul and Pyongyang could be discussed. Cho adds that Kim’s grip on power is firm, and he has a “strong will” for economic development.

: As agreed at April 27’s North-South summit, South Korea begins dismantling its propaganda loudspeakers along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The South’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) says the North began doing the same earlier that day.

: In a half-hour phone call to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, President Moon asks the UN to endorse the Pyongyang Declaration issued after the April 27 summit, and to play a role in verifying North Korea’s commitment to denuclearization and peace.

: The ROK defense ministry (MND) says removal of loudspeakers at the DMZ will begin tomorrow (May 1). MND calls this a “rudimentary” and easy step, noting that (by contrast) creating a peace zone in the West/Yellow Sea will require further consultations.

: President Moon calls for swift parliamentary ratification of the Panmunjom Declaration. This is not guaranteed, for Moon’s Democratic Party (DP) holds only 121 of the National Assembly’s 299 seats. The conservative opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP), which has vowed to block ratification, has 116. How minor parties vote will thus be crucial.

: MOU says the South is considering early high-level inter-Korean talks on the new agreement to open a North-South liaison office in Kaesong. If all goes well, the office could open by June.

: Confirming a surprise decision by Kim Jong Un at the Panmunjom summit, the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), the DPRK parliament, decrees that Northern time will move forward by 30 minutes on May 5 to become the same as in South Korea. That was the case until 2015, when Pyongyang quixotically set its clocks back half an hour – to protest at Japan having brought Korea into its own time zone during the colonial era, a century ago.

: First in a tweet and then at a press conference, President Trump describes as “intriguing” the idea of the DMZ as one possible venue for his forthcoming summit meeting with Kim Jong Un: “There’s something that I like about it because you’re there.”

: Yonhap quotes major credit rating agencies hailing the inter-Korean summit as “credit positive” for the ROK, while not yet eliminating geopolitical risk on the peninsula.

: The third North-South summit is held on the Southern side of Panmunjom. A long, busy and various day mostly goes off smoothly, ending with a banquet and a substantial Panmunjom Declaration. (The full schedule, fulfilled almost to the letter, can be read here.)

: DPRK advance team comes South and stays until Friday’s summit.

: Blue House announces that the two Koreas have reached agreement on protocol, security and media coverage for the third inter-Korean summit later this week.

: Pouring cold water on pleas – including a joint letter from over 200 NGOs – that DPRK human rights should be discussed at the upcoming summit, MOU states: “The main agenda will be denuclearization, establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula and improving North-South relations. Nothing more, nothing less.”

: The two sides discuss protocol and security for the summit at Panmunjom. Several similar meetings follow.

: ROK musicians give their second Pyongyang concert, in a much larger venue:  the 12,000-seat Ryugyong Chung Ju Yung Gymnasium, paid for by and named for Hyundai’s northern-born eponymous founder.

: In a rare DPRK apology, Kim Yong Chol visits ROK reporters in the Koryo hotel. He blames Kim Jong Un’s security guards for their exclusion from the K-pop concert.

: ROK musicians give their first concert in the East Pyongyang Grand Theater, with Kim Jong Un present. He claps along, and has a photograph taken afterwards with the assembled performers. Several South Korean journalists are refused entry, however.

: 120 Southern musicians et al – officials, reporters and a taekwondo demonstration team – fly into Pyongyang.

: The two Koreas set April 27 as the date for their third summit. The same day, 70 ROK music technicians fly to Pyongyang to prepare for the upcoming concerts.

: Seoul’s summit preparation committee suggests talks with Pyongyang on March 29 to finalize details of the meeting.

: In talks at Panmunjom, the two Koreas agree that 160 ROK musicians will visit Pyongyang from March 31 – April 3, giving two concerts there. Performers include girl group Red Velvet, Seohyun of Girls’ Generation (who joined the Samjiyon Orchestra on stage in Seoul), and crooner Cho Yong-pil, who gave a solo concert in Pyongyang in 2005.

: While the US and ROK discuss cost-sharing for USFK, the WPK daily Rodong Sinmun weighs in: “What South Koreans want is an unconditional withdrawal of US troops from the South, an unwelcome guest that poses a threat to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula.”

: Chung Eui-yong reveals that the two Korean leaders will hold a summit in late April, at Panmunjom on the southern side. A hotline between them will be installed before then. Chung adds that Kim restated his commitment to denuclearization.

: A five-strong ROK delegation headed by Blue House security adviser Chung Eui-yong flies into Pyongyang. Hours later they begin four hours of talks with Kim Jong Un, including a banquet: the first time Kim has met Southern officials. They fly home next day.

: Asked by independent lawmaker Rep. Lee Jung-hyun whether a North Korean reconnaissance submarine sank the Cheonan, ROK Defense Minister Song Young-moo says:  “I believe that to be the case.” This contradicts the official ROK government line, invoked during Kim Yong Chol’s recent visit, that it is unclear who precisely was behind the attack.

: Kim Yong Chol and party return home, after two further days of intensive but little-publicized meetings (at least six official one) with senior ROK officials in Seoul.

: 299 North Koreans – cheerleaders, athletes, journalists and officials – return home overland via Dorasan. (The link details the cheering squad’s activities: generally well-received – with some exceptions – and including several unscheduled local shows.)

: Kim Yong Chol and his party cross into the South by an unexpected route, to avoid protestors seeking to block them. Going first to Seoul, Kim meets Moon Jae-in at the Blue House (this was not pre-announced) before heading to PyeongChang for the Olympics closing ceremony, where as predicted he has no interaction with Ivanka Trump nearby.

: DPRK names an eight-member delegation to attend the PyeongChang Olympics closing ceremony. Controversially it is led by KPA General Kim Yong Chol. Now vice-chairman of the WPK CC in charge of inter-Korean affairs, Kim is seen in South Korea as responsible for sinking the corvette Cheonan and shelling Yeonpyeong Island in 2010 when he headed the DPRK’s Reconnaissance Bureau, which runs clandestine operations. Also in the delegation is Kim’s close aide CPRC chairman Ri Son Gwon.

: KCNA reports on two further joint taekwondo performances, in Seoul on Feb. 12 and 14. The DPRK team “knocked out their opponents with swift actions and strong strikes … winning the admiration of the spectators.”
Feb. 21, 2018: Yonhap tallies North Korea’s performance at the Winter Olympics. It won no medals (South Korea ranked seventh). The North’s star performers were figure skating pair Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik, who placed 13th with a personal best of 184.98 points.

: Welcoming back the North’s delegation to the Olympics opening ceremony, Kim Jong Un calls their treatment in the South “very impressive.” He vows to “continue making good results by further livening up the warm climate of reconciliation and dialogue.”

: The Samjiyon Orchestra performs in Seoul. In the audience Moon Jae-in sits next to Kim Yo Jong (their fourth meeting in three days), who flies back to Pyongyang with her delegation later that evening. The orchestra returns home overland next morning.

: At a luncheon in Seoul, Kim Yo Jong extends her brother’s invitation to Moon Jae-in to visit Pyongyang. He thanks her but does not immediately accept.

: Reuters reports “kicking, screaming and flying planks” at PyeongChang. Nothing untoward, just the two Koreas’ taekwondo demonstration teams performing their second show. The first was at the Olympic opening ceremony the previous day.

: A 22-strong delegation, formally led by the DPRK’s nonagenarian titular head of state Kim Yong Nam and featuring Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong as her brother’s special envoy, flies into Incheon on the Northern leader’s personal aircraft. After official welcomes, they proceed directly to PyeongChang for the Olympic opening ceremony.

: President Moon opens the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang. The North and South Korean teams enter the stadium jointly, to a standing ovation: pointedly not joined by US Vice President Pence, who also blanked the DPRK VIPs seated just yards away.

: MOU says the North has withdrawn a request for fuel for the Mangyongbong-92. It would have been hard to ensure this contained no US elements, which would breach sanctions. The vessel sails home on Feb. 10, evidently able to do so without refueling.

: With Kim Jong Un in attendance, a military parade in Pyongyang marks the 70th anniversary of the Korean People’s Army (KPA). Many in South Korea deplore the timing of this, on the very eve of the Olympics. One new missile is spotted.

: Samjiyon Orchestra gives its first Southern concert at Gangneung. The 45 numbers include 11 from South Korea, mostly decades-old ‘trot.’ After some argument the North complies with ROK demands to exclude two songs: one saying ‘socialism is nice’, the other referencing North-led reunification. A source at Gangneung Arts Center reveals that Hyon Song Wol borrowed an iron, and said she will miss their coffee.

: Shortly after midnight, 280 North Koreans – 229 cheerleaders, 26 taekwondo arthletes, 21 journalists and four sports officials including Sports Minister Kim Il Guk – enter South Korea at the Dorasan crossing. They proceed by bus to PyeongChang, with the ROK media in hot pursuit.

: DPRK vessel Mangyongbong-92 docks at the ROK’s Mukho port on the east coast. It conveys the North’s Samjiyon Orchestra, and is their ‘floatel’ till they perform at nearby Gangneung on Feb. 8. They stay on board till Feb. 7, shunning a welcome dinner in their honor; possibly due to noisy anti-communist protests near their boat.

: The return flight from Kalma to Yangyang conveys not only the 31 South Koreans (12 each of alpine and cross-country skiers, support staff and reporters), but also 32 North Koreans including 10 athletes (3 alpine skiers, 3 cross-country skiers, 2 figure skaters and 2 short track skaters.) This completes Team DPRK; as their 12 female ice hockey players are already in the South for joint training.

: In a commentary headlined “South Korean conservatives, nation’s enemy,” the Pyongyang Times repeats in surprising detail right-wing ROK criticisms of the new inter-Korean thaw.

: ROK skiers (not in fact Olympians) fly North for two days’ joint training with DPRK counterparts at Masikryong. Their chartered Asiana flight from Yangyang airport near Gangneung is the first ROK aircraft to fly to the DPRK using an east coast route, and also the first such to land at Wonsan’s pristine Kalma airport: a military facility adapted in 2015 to take tourists too. Its modernization costing $200 million, but it has hardly been used.

: Blaming “insulting” Southern media coverage, North Korea abruptly cancels a joint concert at its long-shuttered Mt Kumgang set for Feb.4. An ROK advance party mooted bringing their own generators as the local power supply was so poor, prompting critics to claim this would violate sanctions. Pyongyang was also cross with Southern criticisms of its planned military parade (see Feb.8).

: 12 female DPRK hockey players, their coach, and two support staff cross the DMZ. They are greeted by their ROK counterparts, with whom they will form a joint team.

: After consultations with both Koreas, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach announces that North Korea will send 22 athletes, plus 24 coaches and officials, to the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games. Besides forming a joint women’s ice hockey team with South Korea, the North will compete in figure skating, short track speed skating, cross-country skiing and alpine skiing. DPRK participation required “exceptional decisions” by the IOC, as none of its athletes had actually qualified.

: Seven-strong DPRK team enters the ROK by road at Dorasan to inspect venues for the Samjiyon Orchestra’s Olympic concerts. Its leader is Hyon Song Wol attracts huge media interest, but says little in public. Her party returns home late on Jan. 21 by the same overland route.

: Meeting at Panmunjom, the two Koreas confirm they will march together in the Olympics opening ceremony, field a joint women’s ice hockey team, and do joint skiing training at the North’s Masikryong resort: a project closely associated with Kim Jong Un.

: Meeting at Panmunjom, the two Koreas agree that the North will send a 140-strong orchestra South to perform in PyeongChang and Seoul during the Winter Olympics.

: A commentary published by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) commentary flays Moon Jae-in for giving Donald Trump credit for the new inter-Korean peace process, calling this “brownnosing” and “coarse invectives”.

: A KCNA commentary flays Moon Jae-in for giving Donald Trump credit for the new inter-Korean peace process, calling this “brownnosing” and “coarse invectives.”

: Pyongyang proposes talks on Jan. 15 at Panmunjom about sending an art troupe to Pyeongchang, rather than a working meeting on sports issues. South Korea’s Ministry of Unification (MOU) notes that the art troupe seems to be the North’s main priority. The South accepts, while urging the North to also set a date to discuss sports.

: An unnamed activist tells Yonhap that two female North Korean defectors drowned recently when their boat capsized on the Mekong River. Ten more swam back to Laos, but later made it safely to Thailand. The group began their journey in Shandong, China; most had previously been trafficked into China.

: Pyongyang proposes talks on Jan. 15 at Panmunjom about sending an art troupe to Pyeongchang, instead of a working meeting on sports issues as Seoul wanted. MOU notes that the art troupe seems to be the North’s priority, rather than the Olympics as such. The South accepts, while urging the North to also set a date to discuss sports.

: ROK Vice Sports Minister Roh Tae-kang says Seoul proposes a joint inter-Korean women’s ice hockey team, and also that North and South should march together at the Olympic opening ceremony.

: South Korea uses the newly reopened inter-Korean hotline to inform the North it plans to return four corpses found by ROK fishermen in a DPRK boat adrift in the East Sea.

: ROK Vice Sports Minister Roh Tae-kang says Seoul has proposed a joint inter-Korean women’s ice hockey team, and that North and South should march together at the Olympic opening ceremony.

: South Korea uses the newly reopened inter-Korean hotline to inform the North of it plans to return four corpses found by ROK fishermen in a DPRK boat adrift in the East Sea. (Such finds are not rare in recent years, but more commonly in Japanese waters.)

: Yonhap notes that several aspects of the effort to bring North Koreans to Pyeongchang might violate UNSC sanctions against the DPRK, or indeed the ROK’s own. It claims that the Moon government’s stance on this is as yet unclear.

: NK News analyzes Kim Jong Un’s public appearances in 2017. Almost half (46) were military in focus, followed by economic and political (24 each), cultural (4) and other (4). Over half (58) were in Pyongyang. Kim’s most frequent companion (38 times) was Hwang Pyong So, despite his vanishing in

: Choi Myeong-hee, mayor of Ganggneung – capital of Gangwon province and host to the PyeongChang Olympics’ ice sports matches – says his city wants to “contribute to the ‘Peace Olympics’” by housing DPRK athletes, cheerleaders and performing artistes in Gangneung Ojuk Hanok Village, a new tourist resort that can accommodate 300 people.

: Yonhap notes that several aspects of the effort to bring North Koreans to PyeongChang might violate UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions against the DPRK, or indeed the ROK’s own. It claims that the Moon government’s stance on this is as yet unclear.

: High-level North-South talks are held on the southern side of Panmunjom, for 11 hours. A joint statement agrees that North Korea will send athletes, an arts troupe, a cheering squad and more to the Pyeongchang Olympics, and that further talks including military will be held to firm up the details.

: Korea Times cites Cho Dong-uk, an audio forensic specialist at Chungnam State University, as claiming that sound samples from Kim Jong Un’s New Year speech suggest that the Northern leader has kidney problems. The test reportedly involved jitters, shimmer, noise-to-harmonics ratio and voice ‘energy.’ But his lungs and heart are just fine.
Jan. 9, 2018: High-level North-South talks are held for 11 hours on the southern side of Panmunjom, the so-called ‘truce village’ in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). A joint statement agrees that North Korea will send athletes, an arts troupe, a cheering squad and more to the PyeongChang Olympics, and that further talks – including military, which in fact seems not to have happened – will be held to firm up the details.

: Launching a MOFA task force for foreign leaders’ visits to the PyeongChang Olympics (over 40 are expected), ROK Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha says South Korea hopes momentum from North Korea’s now expected participation in the Games will lead to progress in inter-Korean relations and the North’s denuclearization.

: ROK Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon says that while tomorrow’s talks will “basically … focus on the Olympics,” Seoul will “also seek to raise the issue of war-torn [separated] families and ways to ease military tensions.”

: Yonhap, South Korea’s quasi-official news agency, claims that a serious decline in the squid catch experienced by ROK fishermen in the East Sea is due to over-fishing by Chinese boats in DPRK waters, which sweep the seabed before the cephalopods have a chance to swim South. Since North Korea first licensed PRC vessels to fish in its east coast waters in 2004, their number has surged from 140 in that year to 1,238 ships as of 2016.

: Launching a MOFA task force for foreign leaders’ visits to the PyeongChang Olympics (over 40 are expected), ROK Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha says South Korea hopes the momentum from North Korea’s now expected participation in the Games will lead to wider progress in inter-Korean relations and the North’s denuclearization.

: South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) says that, starting today, it will give regular monthly briefings on North Korea to the foreign, defense and unification ministries. Observers are puzzled at the implication that this had not been done previously.

: ROK Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon says that while tomorrow’s talks will “basically … focus on the Olympics,” Seoul will “also seek to raise the issue of war-torn [separated] families and ways to ease military tensions.”

: North Korea informs the South of its five-person delegation for Jan. 9’s talks. Leader is Ri Son Gwon, an experienced inter-Korean negotiator who chairs the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country. Other delegates include CPRC vice chairman Jon Jong Su and Won Kil U, a top sports ministry official.

: North Korea informs the South of its five-person delegation for Jan. 9’s talks. Its leader is Ri Son Gwon, an experienced inter-Korean negotiator who chairs the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country (CPRC, formerly CPRK: a state agency since 2016). Other delegates include CPRC vice chairman Jon Jong Su, and Won Kil U, a top sports ministry official.

: The Blue House calls inter-Korean talks “the starting point for the settlement of peace on the Korean Peninsula and North Korean nuclear and missile problems.”

: Long-idled inter-Korean hotline is busy all weekend, as the two Koreas embark on detailed discussions by phone and fax to arrange their upcoming talks, due Jan. 9.

: President Trump says apropos the upcoming inter-Korean talks: “I would love to see them take it beyond the Olympics … And at the appropriate time, we’ll get involved.”

: The Blue House (Cheongwadae, South Korea’s Presidential office) calls inter-Korean talks “the starting point for the settlement of peace on the Korean peninsula and North Korean nuclear and missile problems.”

: The long-idled inter-Korean hotline is busy all weekend, as the two Koreas embark on detailed discussions by phone and fax to arrange their upcoming talks, due Jan. 9.

: President Trump says apropos the upcoming inter-Korean talks: “I would love to see them take it beyond the Olympics … And at the appropriate time, we’ll get involved.”

: Northern media report that Kim Jong Un, welcoming South Korea’s positive response to his New Year address, has ordered the Panmunjom liaison channel (hot line) to reopen from 3pm that day so that inter-Korean talks about DPRK participation in the “Phyongchang Olympiad” (as North Korea spells it) and other matters can be arranged.

: Northern media report that Kim Jong Un, welcoming South Korea’s positive response to his New Year address, has ordered the Panmunjom liaison channel (hot line) to reopen from 3pm that day, so that inter-Korean talks toward DPRK participation in the “Phyongchang Olympiad” (as North Korea spells it) and other matters can be arranged. The hot line duly reopens on schedule.

: ROK Foreign Ministry (MFA) pledges that Seoul will continue “watertight” co-operation with Washington, even as it takes steps to resume dialogue with Pyongyang

: South Korea’s Foreign Ministry (MOFA) pledges that Seoul will continue “watertight” cooperation with Washington, even as it takes steps to resume dialogue with Pyongyang.

: Kim Jong Un’s New Year address, broadcast live on state TV, repeats nuclear threats against the US but, in a major shift, is conciliatory toward South Korea. Kim praises the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and offers to send a delegation.

: Kim Jong Un’s New Year address, broadcast live on state TV, repeats nuclear threats against the US but, in a major shift, is conciliatory towards South Korea. In particular, Kim praises the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics and offers to send a delegation.

: In the second such incident recently, South Korean authorities say they have seized in an ROK port a ship, the Panama-flagged KOTI, on suspicion of transferring oil to a DPRK vessel at sea in violation of UNSC sanctions.

: Representatives of SMEs invested in the KIC demand the zone’s reopening, chanting: “We would like to go to Kaesong.”

: Yonhap cites unnamed ROK officials as saying that the Hong Kong-flagged vessel Lighthouse Winmore, which docked in Yeosu on Nov. 24, has been seized on suspicion of transferring 600 tons of refined petroleum to a DPRK vessel on the high seas on Oct. 19.

: MOU-appointed panel into Park Geun-hye’s abrupt closure in February 2016 of the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) says this was done improperly by fiat, without due intra-governmental consultation.

: Yonhap publishes a news focus article headlined: “Uncertainties shroud prospect of dialogue with N. Korea in 2018.” A week later, the shroud lifts somewhat…

: Another KPA soldier defects at the DMZ, somewhere in the western sector (the exact location is not disclosed). Unlike Nov. 13’s drama, the private simply walked to a Southern guard post under cover of fog. ROK forces fire about 20 warning shots when the KPA discover his absence and start searching close to the MDL.

: Youbit, a Seoul-based bitcoin exchange, closes and files for bankruptcy after a cyber-attack steals 17 percent of its assets. Media reports claim ROK investigators suspect the DPRK, as also for an earlier $72 million theft from Youbit in April and other cyberheists in Bangladesh (2016) and Taiwan (2017).

: Wounded defector Oh Chong-song is transferred from the Ajou trauma center which was treating him, to a military hospital where he will be questioned when well enough.

: ROK daily JoongAng Ilbo quotes unnamed source claiming that Hwang Pyong So, who as political director of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) was one of Kim Jong Un’s two top aides, has been expelled from the ruling Workers’ Party (WPK) for taking bribes. This remains unconfirmed, but Hwang was last seen in public on Oct. 14.

: CNN publishes a further account, including graphic medical footage, of the defector now named as Oh Chong-song (who it says gave his permission for publication).

: Photograph taken at Panmunjom by acting US ambassador in Seoul, Marc Knapper, shows North Korean soldiers and workers digging a trench and planting trees so as to foil any future attempts to flee to the South.

:  John Cook-Jong Lee, the surgeon treating the Panmunjom defector (whose surname is Oh), provides further details of his serious injuries and says he is a “nice guy.”

: Three ROK and three US soldiers who rescued the wounded North Korean defector at Panmunjom are awarded medals of commendation. The North, meanwhile, has reportedly replaced all its border guards there.

: United Nations Command finally releases video of the Nov. 13 defection at Panmunjom. On the same day, the defector regains consciousness.

: Doctors treating the badly wounded but now stable Northern defector (said to be a KPA staff sergeant in his mid-20s) reveal that his digestive tract contained dozens of parasitic worms, some large; indicating that even elite North Koreans suffer from poor diet.

: In a rare and dramatic incident (video here), a North Korean soldier flees to the South at Panmunjom.

: ROK SMEs formerly invested in the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) petition their government to investigate reports that the North has illegally reopened the zone.

: Moon government approves $8 million humanitarian aid package for North Korea, via the UN.

: North Korean website Uriminzokkiri warns “the south Korean puppet forces” that “dependence on outside forces will lead to miserable destruction … It is illogical to talk about ‘dialog’ and ‘restoration of south-north relations’ while desperately working to stifle the DPRK together with outside forces … This reminds one of traitors Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye.”

: President Moon firmly rules out any nuclear option for South Korea, be it the return of US tactical weapons or autonomously. But he accepts that the ROK must “develop our military capabilities in the face of North Korea’s nuclear advancement.”

: MOU says the ROK is considering giving aid worth $8 million to the DPRK via the UN, on the principle that humanitarianism should be separate from politics. A decision will be made Sept. 21. $4.5 million is for projects run by the World Food Program (WFP), with the rest to UNICEF for nutrition, medications, and vaccines. Seoul may also provide $6 million for the UN-supported DPRK census, planned for next year.

: President Moon firmly rules out any nuclear option for South Korea, whether the return of US tactical weapons or autonomously. But he accepts that the ROK must “develop our military capabilities in the face of North Korea’s nuclear advancement.”

: The New York Times reports that the ROK military is accelerating formation of a “decapitation unit,” originally planned under Park Geun-hye as a medium-term project, to target Kim Jong Un in the event of war.

: New York Times reports that the ROK military is accelerating formation of a “decapitation unit”, originally planned under Park Geun-hye as a medium-term project, to target Kim Jong Un in the event of war.

: Responding to North Korea’s Sept. 3 nuclear test, the UN Security Council passes – unanimously – its eighth major resolution since 2006 censuring North Korea. UNSCR 2375 (full text here) tightens economic sanctions against the DPRK, which denounces these measures – with even more vitriol than usual.

: Unification Ministry (MOU) says that although there is no official word, the Seoul-based World Taekwondo (WT, formerly WTF) has been told by the DPRK-based International Taekwondo Federation that “given the current security situation” it can no longer send a demonstration team to the ITF championships in Pyongyang on Sept. 15-21.

: Responding to North Korea’s Sept. 3 nuclear test, the UN Security Council passes – unanimously, as ever – its eighth major resolution since 2006 censuring North Korea. UNSCR 2375 (full text here) further tightens economic sanctions gainst the DPRK, which as ever denounces these measures – even more vitriolically than usual.

: Reacting to an NBC report that the US does not rule out moving tactical nuclear weapons to the ROK if Seoul requests, the Blue House denies any such plans saying, “There is no change in the government’s policy principle of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and we have never reviewed a re-adoption of the tactical nukes.”

: Reacting to an NBC report that the US does not rule out moving tactical nuclear weapons to the ROK if Seoul so requests, the Blue House denies any such plans: “There is no change in the government’s policy principle of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and we have never reviewed a re-adoption of the tactical nukes.”

: DPRK conducts sixth, and most powerful, nuclear test since 2006. Most observers accept Pyongyang’s claim that this was a hydrogen bomb. In response, the ROK on Sept. 4 holds a live-fire ballistic missile drill.

: Under the headline “Anti-DPRK Campaign of S. (sic) Korean Puppet Reptile Writers Will Be Foiled,” North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quotes the Central Committee of the Journalists Union of [North] Korea as excoriating Southern media, five of them by name. The CCJUK vows to “… sharpen the just writing brushes to defend our leader, our party and our social system” and to “track down the puppet conservative reptile writers fostering discord … and throw overboard all of them … Our grime (sic) and merciless pen will sight the bases which commit hideous crimes against the DPRK by spreading misinformation about it, and beat them to pieces.”

: DPRK conducts its sixth, and much the most powerful, nuclear test since 2006. Most observers accept Pyongyang’s claim that this was a hydrogen bomb. In response, the ROK on Sept. 4 holds a live-fire ballistic missile drill.

: Health authorities in Gyeonggi Province, which surrounds Seoul and abuts the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), say that nine out of 10 malaria infections in South Korea occur in areas bordering the North. Malaria cases in the South have risen since joint efforts, funded by the ROK, to tackle the disease on the Northern side lapsed in 2012 as tensions worsened.

: As the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise ends, US and ROK conduct an aerial show of force in response to North Korea’s latest missile test on Aug. 29.

: KCNA carries a proclamation by North Korea’s Central Court sentencing four named Southern journalists to death for reviewing a book deemed insulting to the DPRK. No such sentence is passed on the book’s Britsh authors. MOU at once condemns and dismisses this as “absurd.”

: Yonhap says the Moon administration is seeking to ensure that North Korea participate in the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympics next February, hoping this will help ease inter-Korean tensions.

: Annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian US-ROK war games, which are mainly computer- rather than field-based, begin. This year’s exercise is slightly smaller than in 2016, but US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis denies that this is a gesture to Pyongyang. Unimpressed DPRK media as usual shrilly excoriate these maneuvers as a rehearsal for invasion.

: On Liberation Day (from Japan in 1945: a holiday in both Koreas), Moon Jae-in vows to prevent a new Korean war “at all costs.” He insists: “Military action on the Korean Peninsula can only be decided by the ROK and no one may decide to take military action without the consent of the ROK.” The main opposition LKP accuses Moon of “running about in confusion,” voicing fears that South Korea “will be relegated into an observer country.”

: After Pyongyang threatens to fire missiles at Guam, ROK Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung says Seoul is “considering all necessary steps to reduce tensions on the peninsula” and “will leave the door open for dialogue with the North.”

: Rodong Sinmun condemns South Korea’s “commemorations with July 27 as an occasion” (the word armistice is not mentioned) as a “disgusting burlesque” by “traitors” and “lackeys.” It warns that if provoked again, “[our] army and people will wipe out the enemies to the last one so that there would be no one left to sign a document of surrender.”

: Leif-Eric Easley of Ewha University in Seoul neatly sums up the current inter-Korean situation: “Moon assembles dream team, but North Korea unwilling to play.”

: DPRK test-fires another claimed ICBM, its second this month.

: South Korea, and the UN Command, each hold events to mark the 64th anniversary of the 1953 Armistice, which ended the Korean War. MOU again urges North Korea to respond to the South’s overtures, adding that there is no deadline.

: Unseen for the past 15 days, Kim Jong Un re-emerges on what the DPRK celebrates as Victory Day to pay tribute to the fallen in Pyongyang’s Fatherland Liberation War Martyrs Cemetery.

: Dismissing Seoul’s call for better inter-Korean ties as “nonsense,” Rodong Sinmun tells South Korea to end its “submission” to the US: “Ditching confrontation and hostility is a precondition for opening the door for the two Koreas’ reconciliation and unity.”

: Responding to barely veiled criticism from the US that a resumption of inter-Korean dialogue is untimely, MOU insists this is distinct from the denuclearization issue – and helpful in promoting humanitarian contacts and reducing tensions.

: South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) proposes inter-Korean military talks to reduce border tensions on July 21 at Tongilgak, North Korea’s main building at the Panmunjom. Separately, the ROK Red Cross suggests talks on Aug. 1 about resuming family reunions. Both dates pass with no reply from Pyongyang.

: MOU says it called the DPRK liaison office at Panmunjom, but no one answered. Inter-Korean communication channels were cut by North Korea in February 2016 after the South closed the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

: DPRK website Uriminzokkiri features a video interview with Jon Hye Song, a young woman who defected to the ROK in 2014. Known there as Im Ji-hyun, she was a well-known figure on TV shows featuring DPRK defectors. Like previous such returnees, she now tearfully repents and begs the motherland’s forgiveness. Some in Seoul claim she must have been abducted. (Note: The Uriminzokkiri video is very slow-loading. Until recently this could also be watched on YouTube, but in an act of gratuitous censorship YouTube has recently shut down this and other DPRK accounts.)

: Yonhap, the ROK’s quasi-official news agency, quotes an unnamed senior official as saying there is no evidence that monies the DPRK received from the joint venture Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) went to fund its nuclear program. Such a link was alleged by the Park Geun-hye administration as one reason for closing the KIC in February 2016.

: MOU says South Korea will seek fresh inter-Korean talks once it gauges North Korea’s reaction to President Moon’s Berlin speech.

: In a major speech given at the Körber Foundation in Berlin, President Moon calls on North Korea to choose peace and cooperation. He insists that, “We do not wish for the collapse of North Korea, and we will not pursue any form of unification by absorbing the other … [or] unification by force.”

: Cho Myoung-gyon formally starts work as the 39th minister of unification. He succeeds Park Geun-hye’s appointee Hong Yong-pyo, who had served since February 2015.

:  Report published by the Korea Development Institute (KDI), an ROK state think-tank, notes that the only sphere of North-South socio-cultural exchanges still ongoing is sports. It suggests using this as an icebreaker for wider inter-Korean relations, given Kim Jong Un’s personal interest in this field.

: ROK National Assembly approves Cho Myoung-gyon as unification minister. The conservative main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP), keen to block Moon’s Cabinet nominees – the new foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha, failed to get parliamentary approval, which is not mandatory – concedes that Cho has no “major ethical lapses.”

: With President Moon watching, the ROK successfully test-fires a Hyunmoo-2 missile, whose 500 mile range – the maximum currently allowed under an accord with the US – means it can strike anywhere in the DPRK.

: ROK’s official National Unification Advisory Council (NUAC) publishes a survey it conducted on June 9-11. 77 percent of South Koreans polled support a resumption of North-South dialogue; 22 percent disagree. NUAC finds a similar divide (74 vs 23) on whether Seoul should allow private business inter-Korean contacts. 48 percent expect North-South relations to improve.

: On the 17th anniversary of the first North-South summit, MOU calls for peace and reconciliation. For its part, North Korea blames the South for the absence of any joint celebrations this year, and accuses Seoul of “reading the face of the US.”

: President Moon nominates Cho Myoung-gyon as Minister of Unification. A career official with 28 years’ service in the MOU, Cho had key roles at KEDO and the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) in 2004-06, before serving the late President Roh Moo-hyun as secretary for unification, diplomacy and security in the Blue House during 2006-08.

: South Korean preparatory group says there will be no joint celebrations of the anniversary of the first inter-Korean summit meeting on June 15, 2000. North Korea has yet to invite them to Pyongyang, but the group also said, “it is regrettable that the [Southern] government has not presented a clear stance over its approval.”

: MOU approves four more applications by Southern NGOs to contact North Korea, bringing the total of such approvals to 15 in less than a month since Moon Jae-in took office. Park Geun-hye, by contrast, had ended up banning all civilian contacts. The same day two of these organizations say the North refuse to let them visit, in protest of Seoul’s support for the latest UN sanctions against the DPRK.

: Reacting to a string of DPRK ballistic missile tests this year, the UN Security Council (UNSC) unanimously passes another resolution criticizing North Korea, its seventh since 2006. UNSCR 2356 censures such activity and further tightens economic sanctions.

: South Korea returns six Northern fishermen whose boats drifted into ROK waters on May 27. The North refuses two different phone calls at Panmunjom – one direct, the other via the UN Military Armistice Commission – so the South has to communicate its plan via loudspeaker across the DMZ. A DPRK guide vessel duly receives the six men and one boat (the other was damaged beyond repair) at the east coast marine border, whose demarcation unlike that on the west coast is agreed and not disputed.

: Yonhap quotes an unnamed official source as saying the Moon government plans additional financial support for not only Southern firms impacted by closure of the KIC, but also those harmed by suspension of tourism to Mount Kumgang since 2008 and by Lee Myung-bak’s 2010 ban on non-KIC trade with and investment in North Korea.

: South Korea’s Unification Ministry (MOU) calls for restoration of the inter-Korean hotline at Panmunjom. Set up in 1971 and periodically suspended since, this has been inactive – meaning the North refuses to answer the South’s daily calls – since February 2016.

: DPRK Central Public Prosecutors Office says it will demand the extradition of those behind the alleged “bid to commit state-sponsored terrorism against its supreme leadership.” It names three ROK NIS operatives, including its outgoing director.

: DPRK Central Public Prosecutors Office says it will demand the extradition of those behind the alleged “bid to commit state-sponsored terrorism against its supreme leadership.” It names three ROK NIS operatives, including the agency’s outgoing director.

: Without delay, Moon Jae-in is sworn in as the ROK’s 19th president. In his inaugural speech he expresses willingness to go anywhere for peace, including Pyongyang.

: Two of Moon’s first appointments highlight North Korea. New National Intelligence Service (NIS) Director Suh Hoon lived there for two years and helped organize inter-Korean summits. Im Jong-seok,  Moon’s Blue House chief of staff – one of two, it later transpires – was jailed in his youth for organising an illegal visit to Pyongyang by a fellow-student.

: Moon Jae-in is sworn in as the ROK’s 19th president. In his inaugural speech he expresses willingness to go anywhere for peace, including Pyongyang.

: Two of Moon’s first appointments highlight North Korea. New NIS director Suh Hoon lived there for two years, working for the former KEDO (Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization) consortium; he later helped arrange the two inter-Korean summits. Im Jong-seok, Moon’s Blue House chief of staff – one of two, it later transpires – was jailed in his youth for organizing an illegal visit to Pyongyang by a fellow-student.

: On the eve of the ROK election, Rodong Sinmun advises South Koreans to “judge the puppet group of conservatives, accomplices with Park … as they punished Park.”

: South Korea holds its 19th presidential election, seven months ahead of the normal schedule owing to Park Geun-hye’s impeachment. The main opposition candidate, Moon Jae-in of the Minjoo Party (Democrats), wins overwhelmingly.

: South Korea holds its 19th presidential election, seven months ahead of the normal schedule because of Park Geun-hye’s impeachment. The main opposition candidate, Moon Jae-in of the Minjoo Party (Democrats), wins overwhelmingly.

: Pyongyang media report Kim Jong Un’s conducting a field inspection of the KPA’s Southwestern Front Command on Changjae and Mu Islets, close to South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island which Northern artillery shelled in November 2010, killing four. Calling that “the most delightful battle after the [sc 1953] ceasefire,” Kim examines “the plan for fire strike” and commands his troops “to break the backbone of the enemy once ordered.”

: In a long statement, shrill even for Pyongyang and carried in full by the BBC, the DPRK Ministry of State Security accuses the US CIA and South Korea’s ‘Intelligence Service’ of a dastardly plot to kill its supreme leadership using a “biochemical substance”.

: North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country (CPRC) condemns the South’s “puppet Ministry of Unification” for planning a “‘south-north human rights dialogue.’” Choice insults include: “The ‘idiots of the ministry’ who are reduced into living corpses and being treated like a mange-affected dog” – and much more.

: Pyongyang media report Kim Jong Un’s conducting a field inspection of the Korean People’s Army (KPA)’s Southwestern Front Command on Changjae and Mu Islets, close to South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island which Northern artillery shelled in November 2010, killing four. Calling that “the most delightful battle after the [sc 1953] ceasefire”, Kim examines “the plan for fire strike” and commands his troops “to break the backbone of the enemy once ordered.”

: In a long statement, shrill even for Pyongyang and carried in full by the BBC, DPRK Ministry of State Security accuses US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and South Korea’s ‘Intelligence Service’ – presumably the National Intelligence Service (NIS) – of a plot to kill its supreme leadership using a “biochemical substance.”

: — North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country (CPRC) condemns the South’s “puppet Ministry of Unification” for planning a “south-north human rights dialogue.” Choice insults include: “The ‘idiots of the ministry’, who are reduced into living corpses and being treated like a mange-affected dog” – and much more.
May 9, 2017: On the eve of the ROK election, Rodong Sinmun, daily newspaper of the DPRK’s ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), urges South Korean voters to “judge the puppet group of conservatives, accomplices with Park … as they punished Park.”

: US and South Korea conclude their Foal Eagle military exercises.

: Contra outside expectations, no fresh nuclear or ballistic missile test marks North Korea’s second big holiday this month: the (fictitious) 85th anniversary of the KPA’s founding in 1932 (in reality under Soviet auspices on Feb. 8, 1948, the date celebrated until 1971). Kim Jong Un inspects a live-fire drill off Wonsan on the east coast.

: North Korea fires an unidentified ballistic missile, which explodes (or is deliberately aborted) almost immediately after launch.

: DPRK marks the 105th birthday of its founding leader and ‘eternal president’ Kim Il Sung with a large military parade in Pyongyang, featuring several types of new missile not previously seen.

: South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) reports that from Jan. 2016 through Feb. 2017 a total of 2,039,898 North Korean wind-borne propaganda leaflets were found in the South, almost all in Seoul and the surrounding Gyeonggi Province.

: The DPRK’s Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) holds its annual session, as usual lasting just one day. Kim Jong Un attends. It creates a new Diplomatic Commission, perhaps as a vehicle for fresh outreach.

: The two Koreas’ women’s teams play the first inter-Korean soccer match in Pyongyang since 1990. The final score is a 1-1 draw.

: MND announces that alongside Foal Eagle the allies will stage Integrated Firepower Exercise 2017, “a set of massive joint artillery drills” (open to the public), at Pocheon near the DMZ on April 13, 21, and 26. This had been held nine times since 1977.

: ROK women’s ice hockey team beats the DPRK’s 3-0 in Gangneung.

: Hundreds of South Koreans cheer on the North Korean team participating in the women’s ice hockey world championships in Gangneung, ROK.

: ROK women’s soccer team flies to Pyongyang via Beijing for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women’s Asian Cup Group B qualifying tournament.

: MOU says it has approved a visit by North Korea’s women’s ice hockey team, to compete in the world championships at Gangneung April 1-9.

: ROK government announces May 9 as the date of a snap election to pick Park Geun-hye’s successor as president. Under the Constitution this election must take place within 60 days of impeachment being confirmed. The victor will take office at once on May 10, forgoing the two-month transition period prescribed in normal circumstances.

: As part of Foal Eagle, the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer arrive in Busan, ROK.

: Yonhap reports that US special operations forces will participate in Foal Eagle, including for the first time US Navy SEAL Team Six, which killed Osama bin Laden, “to practice incapacitating (sic) North Korean leadership in the case of conflict.”

: In a unanimous 8-0 vote, the ROK Constitutional Court upholds Park Geun-hye’s impeachment, thus terminating her presidency almost a year early. Two Park supporters die in ensuing protests. (Park nonetheless remains in the Blue House until March 12.) The Prime Minister, Hwang Kyo-Ahn, continues as acting President, which he has been since Dec. 9, when the National Assembly voted to impeach Park.

: With rare rapidity when covering domestic ROK politics, and fewer insults than often, DPRK media report Park’s defenestration within three hours of the event.

: DPRK test-fires four ballistic missiles simultaneously. Three land in Japanese waters, one only 350 km northwest of Akihita Prefecture.

: South Korea and the US begin their annual large-scale Foal Eagle military maneuvers, lasting two months. Key Resolve, the accompanying smaller computer-based command and control exercise, begins a week later on March 8 and ends on March 23. As usual North Korea fiercely and repeatedly attacks both, even after they are over.

: Yonhap reports that in recent days 34 South Korean loudspeakers along the DMZ informed North Koreans that Kim Jong Un had his half-brother murdered.

: South Korea’s Unification Ministry says, a propos Kim Jong Nam’s death: “We believe the North Korean regime is behind this incident.”

: Kim Jong Nam, older half-brother of Kim Jong Un, is killed at Kuala Lumpur airport in Malaysia by two young women who smear his face with a cloth laced with the nerve agent VX.

: In its first such act since Donald Trump took office, North Korea fires a mid-range Pukguksong-2 ballistic missile while Trump is entertaining Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo in Florida. Both leaders condemn the launch, which falls short of Japanese waters, landing 500 km east of the peninsula after reaching an impressive height of 550 km.

: KCNA publishes a commentary headlined: “Park Geun Hye Group Is Bound to Perish”; noting (presciently) that “the time to oust Park from Chongwadae is close at hand.” (DPRK media regularly carry much else in similar vein throughout the period under review.)

: Thae Yong-ho tells a conference in Seoul that “a significant number of  [North Korean] diplomats came to South Korea” and more are waiting to do so, even though his is the only such recent case to have been publicized.

: ROK Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo tells the Wall Street Journal that North Koreans increasingly defect for political reasons, “not just because they are starving, but for a better life, and for freedom and for their children’s education.”

: Thae Yong-ho, former minister at the DPRK Embassy in London who defected to the ROK last year, tells Yonhap that, “North Korea has set the goal of developing miniaturized nuclear weapons that can fit atop a missile capable of reaching the US by the end of 2017 or early 2018 as it takes into account political transitions in South Korea and the US.”

: Ahead of Kim Jong Un’s 33rd birthday on Jan. 8, MOU says there are no signs of imminent provocations by North Korea.

: Citing an unnamed defense ministry (MND) source, CNN claims the ROK is speeding up the creation of a “decapitation unit” which in the event of hostilities would take out the top DPRK military leadership, including Kim Jong Un. Originally slated for 2019, it will now be ready this year.

: Rodong Sinmun carries a signed article, moderate in tone and general in scope, headlined “Improvement of North-south Relations Is Starting Point of Peace and Reunification.”

: In a new tack, Park Geun-hye’s lawyers claim that the weekly mass protests against her are pro-Pyongyang. Press reaction is derisive: the JoongAng calls this “some serious self-deception.”

: Citing an unnamed defense ministry (MND) source, CNN claims the ROK is speeding up the creation of a “decapitation unit,” which, in the event of hostilities would be tasked with taking out the top DPRK military leadership, including Kim Jong Un. Originally slated for 2019, it will now be ready this year.

: Rodong Sinmun, the daily paper of North Korea’s Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), carries a signed article, moderate in tone and general in scope, headlined “Improvement of North-south Relations Is Starting Point of Peace and Reunification.” (Pieces of this tenor, however, remain outnumbered by diatribes and insults.)

: Quoting an anonymous ROK government source, Yonhap reports that from next week the Center for North Korean Human Rights Records, launched in September, will interview newly arrived defectors to collect evidence of human rights violations. This will be used to craft government policy as well as potentially to “hold violators responsible for their crimes.” Violators will be listed and their “mug shots” compiled (one wonders how), but the list and photographs will not be published.

: In a new tack, Park Geun-hye’s lawyers claim that the weekly mass protests against her are pro-Pyongyang. Press reaction is derisive: JoongAng calls this “some serious self-deception.” It transpires later that these allegations are based on fake news.

: Kim Jong Un delivers his usual New Year Address. Inter-Korean issues occupy about one-fifth of this, all DPRK standard rhetoric with no new proposals. South Korea swiftly criticizes the speech, urging Pyongyang to stop provocations and insults and to embrace denuclearization.

: Emerging briefly from seclusion, Park Geun-hye takes tea with the press in the Blue House. She denies any wrongdoing, calling the accusations against her “fabrication and falsehood.”

: DPRK leader Kim Jong Un delivers his usual New Year Address. Inter-Korean issues occupy about one-fifth of this, all standard rhetoric with no new proposals. (See full text in the previous issue of Comparative Connections.) South Korea swiftly criticizes the speech, urging Pyongyang to stop provocations and insults and to embrace denuclearization.

: Emerging briefly from her seclusion, South Korea’s impeached President Park Geun-hye takes tea with the press in the Blue House. She denies any wrongdoing, calling the accusations against her “fabrication and falsehood.”

: A joint opinion poll by Yonhap (South Korea’s quasi-official news agency) and KBS (the ROK’s state-owned main broadcaster) on the leading presidential contenders gives Moon Jae-in a 21.6 percent approval rating, with Ban Ki-moon on 17.2 percent and Lee Jae-myung 12.4 percent. No one else even makes double figures. As to party popularity, Moon’s Minjoo (Democrats) on 36.3 percent far outpaces Park Geun-hye’s Saenuri Party, now down to 12.4 percent.

: Citing MOU’s and its own data, Yonhap says that Kim Jong Un’s field guidance visits, which peaked in 2013, fell from 153 in 2015 to 132 in 2016. His most frequent companion last year was Jo Yong Won, a vice director of the WPKs Central Committee. Jo accompanied Kim 47 times, more often than the better-known Hwang Pyong So (40 occasions).

: Reverting to its usual hyperbole, under the headline “Dictator’s doom unavoidable” the Pyongyang Times castigates “Park Geun Hye’s vicious dictatorship, which can be found nowhere else in the international political arena [and] generated the gargantuan … scandal shaking the world.”

: Rodong Sinmun condemns “traitor Hwang Kyo An, puppet prime minister of south Korea” for urging “decisive retaliation against any provocation of the north” while recently visiting a front-line unit: “Such reckless muscle flexing is unpardonable. The fellow countrymen will surely mete out a stern punishment to those quislings.”

: Chief Justice of the ROK Constitutional Court Park Han-chul pledges a “speedy and fair” impeachment trial. Justice Park’s own term on the bench ends on Jan. 31.

: Radio Pyongyang again broadcasts mystery number sequences in the small hours, starting at 0115 Seoul time. Introduced by the announcer as “review works in math lessons of the remote education university for No. 27 expedition agents,” these might be coded instructions to spies, as was the case in the past. This is the 20th such broadcast since June 24; they had previously lapsed after June 2000’s North-South summit. Alternatively, Yonhap suggests that this “may be some sort of psychological strategy aimed at sparking internal confusion within South Korea.”

: In a signed article headlined “Stupid tricks” but quite analytical overall, the Pyongyang Times (misspelling Hwang Kyo-ahn as Hwan) declares that “the ever-growing massive candlelit protest actions in south Korea demand the overall resignation of the incumbent cabinet.”

: Yonhap blows its own trumpet. Under the headlineYonhap News key source of outside info for N. Korean diplomats: N.K. diplomat”, the ROK news agency quotes diplomat-defector Thae Yong Ho: “The first website North Korea[n] diplomats open on their computers is Yonhap News.

: Rodong Sinmun reports that on Dec. 23 the DPRK Measure Council (sic) for Human Rights in South Korea published a report listing “the worst ten of many crimes committed by the south Korean Park Geun Hye regime of traitors in 2016”. These include “the thrice-cursed group abduction” (aka the Ningbo 13) and other unconvincing or scattergun examples. (Readers in the ROK, where it remains illegal to access DPRK media sources directly, should be able to read it here.) Two days later the Pyongyang Times covers this in better English; the publishing body is now named as the DPRK Association for Protection of Human Rights in South Korea.

: Kim Jong Un, and all North Korea, marks the fifth anniversary of his father Kim Jong Il’s death.

: Constitutional Court warns that Park’s impeachment trial will take time (up to 180 days are allowed).

: DPRK media report and picture Kim Jong Un, “with a broad smile,” guiding a special operations drill whose target appears to be a mock-up of the Blue House in Seoul.

: The ROK National Assembly overwhelmingly passes a bill to impeach President Park, on five counts of violating the Constitution and eight of criminal violations. Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, a Park appointee, is at once sworn in as acting resident.

: South Korea follows UNSCR 2321 by tightening bilateral sanctions on North Korea. Seoul’s measures, mainly blacklisting entities which do no business with the ROK anyway, are described by Kim Kwang-jin, a prominent defector economist, as “largely symbolic.”

: Almost three months after North Korea’s latest nuclear test, the UN Security Council – unanimously, as always – passes Resolution 2321, condemning this and further tightening sanctions.

: MOU says it will conduct a pilot survey on 10 recent Northern defectors to gather data on DPRK human rights abuses.

: North Korea holds an army-people solidarity rally marking the sixth anniversary of the shelling of the South’s Yeonpyeong Island. The venue is the locality from whence the KPA’s 4th Army Corps fired: Kangryong County in South Hwanghae province.

: KCNA reports that Kim Jong Un inspected KPA units on Kali – said to be a new base created at Kim’s direction – and the larger Jangjae, two islets in the West (Yellow) Sea close to the ROK-held Yeonpyeong island. As usual no date is given, but this presumably was the previous day, Nov. 12. Kim’s instructions included that these front-line soldiers “should be provided with lots of ideological pabulum.” More ominously, he also “approved the newly worked out combat document of the plan for firepower strike at Yonphyong [the DPRK spelling] Island.”

: In a second televised apology, a tearful Park Geun-hye says she let her guard drop as regards Choi: “These latest developments are all my fault and were caused by my carelessness.”

:  Rodong Sinmun offers the North’s first official commentary on the Choi Sun-sil scandal, Calling Choi a “mindless shaman,” the paper’s editorial board concludes: “The tide of history is now in the hands of South Koreans and how they will fulfill their duties and responsibilities.”

: In the first of what will become weekly rallies every Saturday, thousands of protesters in Seoul and elsewhere demonstrate, peacefully, calling for President Park Geun-hye to step down.

: The Hankyoreh, South Korea’s main left-leaning daily, repeats the charge that Choi Sun-sil meddled in North Korea policy, including the KIC closure and also the Jan. 7 decision to resume propaganda broadcasts by loudspeaker across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

: With unusual speed (the norm is 2-3 days’ delay in reporting ROK domestic events), Rodong Sinmun, daily paper of the DPRK’s ruling Workers’ Party, reports that “Park Geun-hye and her party face the worst political crisis ever … The current ‘government’ faces de-facto collapse”

: Responding to – if not exactly denying – media claims that Choi Sun-sil was involved in drafting President Park’s March 2014 Dresden Declarations and in last February’s decision to shut the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), MOU insists that the former’s contents came from relevant ministries, while the KIC closure was made for security reasons.

: President Park admits and apologizes for having Choi review some of her speeches, but says she did this “with pure intent.” Most reactions criticize this explanation as unsatisfactory.

: JTBC, a South Korean cable TV network, claims it has computer evidence showing that Choi Sun-sil – a long-time confidante of President Park Geun-hye, with no official post or security clearance – had advance drafts of Park’s major speeches and edited some of them.

: Visiting Seoul, the US Special Envoy for DPRK Human Rights Issues Robert King says Washington hopes to sanction more North Koreans for rights abuses.

: South Korea’s NGO Council for Cooperation with North Korea (KNCCK) says the 54 bodies it represents have together collected $187,000 for flood aid to the North. They send this to the International Committee of the Red Cross (IRC), as their own government now bans direct contact.

: Citing MOU data, Yonhap reports that 1,036 North Koreans entered the South in January-September this year, taking the cumulative total since 1953 to 29,830.

: Nam Kyung-pil, governor of Gyeonggi Province (which surrounds Seoul), who is – or was – seen as a potential conservative candidate for the ROK presidency, tells Yonhap that in the face of North Korea’s growing nuclear threats, the South too should prepare to acquire nuclear weapons.

: Suh Doo-hyun, head of the new CNKHRR, says the center is considering probing the DPRK’s rights violations in third countries, including its labor export practices.

: Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo attends the opening ceremony of the Center for North Korean Human Rights Records (CNKHRR).

: In seeming response to recent reports from Seoul of contingency plans to “decapitate” the DPRK leadership (see Sept. 11, above), a statement by the Korean People’s Army (KPA) General Staff warns that “the nuclear warheads fired by the KPA as punishment will completely reduce to ashes Seoul, the center of confrontation with compatriots where Chongwadae [the Blue House, the ROK presidential office and residence] is located and reactionary ruling machines are concentrated.” Furthermore “the KPA will sweep Guam, the base of provocations, from the surface of the earth.”

: In the DPRK’s second major test of a rocket engine this year (the first was on April 9), Kim Jong Un watches what KCNA calls a “ground jet test of a new type of high-power engine of a carrier rocket for the geo-stationary satellite.”

: MOU says that in the light of North Korea’s recent nuclear test, the chances of South Korea offering Pyongyang flood aid, even if asked, are low.

: At a fractious two-hour meeting with heads of the three main political parties – “Leaders snarl at each other at the Blue House” is the JoongAng Daily’s headline – Park rejects a proposal by the new Minjoo Party chairwoman, Choo Mi-ae, that she send a special envoy to Pyongyang. Park Jie-won, acting head of the People’s Party, says that unlike Park’s government and her ruling Saenuri Party, the two liberal opposition parties believe that “sanctions and dialogue must be implemented simultaneously.” They also oppose the planned deployment on ROK soil of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile defense system.

: A dozen South Korean security and nuclear experts launch a new think-tank to discuss how the ROK could be armed with nuclear weapons.

: Yonhap quotes “a military source” as claiming, in lurid tones more usually associated with the North, that South Korea “has already developed a plan to annihilate … Pyongyang through intensive bombing in case the North shows any signs of a nuclear attack …. the North’s capital city will be reduced to ashes and removed from the map.”

: DPRK conducts its fifth nuclear test since 2006 and its second this year. Pyongyang media exult; Seoul, and the rest of the world, sharply condemn this.

: Attending the Seoul Defence Dialogue (SDD), Ahmet Uzumcu, Director General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), says North Korea should join the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) without delay; adding that he has for years written many letters to Pyongyang on this, but never even received a reply.

: Yonhap reports that 894 DPRK defectors reached the ROK during January-August, up 15 per cent from 777 in the first eight months of 2015. The agency forecasts that the cumulative total since 1953 will surpass 30,000 this year. Arrivals peaked in 2009, but have slowed since 2011 under Kim Jong Un as border controls were tightened.

: Central Committee of North Korea’s Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist Youth League proposes a meeting of young Koreans from both North and South to discuss unification. Seoul rejects this the next day, calling it “sheer propaganda.”

: Days after Pyongyang media and the UN report severe flood damage in the DPRK’s northeast, with at least 60 dead, MOU says Seoul has received no request for aid.

: Ryoo Kihl-jae, architect of Trustpolitik and Park Geun-hye’s first Unification Minister (2013-15), tells Chatham House that unification “should happen peacefully and gradually … through the accrual of mutually beneficial and reciprocal cooperation between South and North Korea.” Ryoo was let go in Feb. 2015, as Park embraced a more unilateral view of unification.

: At a joint press conference with President Barack Obama after their bilateral meeting in Vientiane, Laos, ROK President Park says that “unification will offer the opportunity to the North Korean people of equal treatment.”

: A poll commissioned by the ROK Unification Ministry (MOU) finds that, for the first time since Aug. 15, critics of President Park’s approach to North Korea (46.9 percent of those polled) outnumber her supporters, albeit narrowly (45.9 percent).

: ROK’s North Korean Human Rights Act (NKHRA), passed March 3, 2016 by the National Assembly, takes effect. Inter alia this makes provision to “collect, record and preserve details of crimes against humanity committed by Kim [Jong Un] and his aides.” To that end, later in September a new Center for North Korean Human Rights Records (CNKHRR) is established.

: In his first interview, conducted by telephone, the ex-restaurant manager of the ‘Ningbo 13’ – North Korean restaurant workers in China, who came to Seoul en masse in April – named as a Mr Heo aged 36, tells the Hankyoreh that he never expected Seoul to publicize their defection, and says repeatedly that “time will bring everything to light.”

: Yonhap, the quasi-offical ROK news agency, reports “a source” (unidentified) as claiming that a diplomat engaged in trade activities at the DPRK Consulate General in Vladivostok defected to Seoul in August, bringing his family and “huge holdings of foreign currency.” No such defection is subsequently confirmed, as of Jan. 2017. Several other similar claims emanating from Seoul of recent diplomatic defections remain unsubstantiated.

: Yonhap reports “a source” – just that; no further identification – as claiming that a diplomat engaged in trade activities at the DPRK consulate general in Vladivostok defected to Seoul in August, bringing his family and “huge holdings of foreign currency.”

: Citing “a Seoul official”, Yonhap claims that Kim Yong Jin, North Korea’s vice premier for education, was executed by firing squad in July for slouching at June’s SPA meeting; and that Kim Yong Chol, Pyongyang’s point man on South Korea, received a month of revolutionary re-education on a farm for his overbearing attitude and abuse of power. Some experts cast doubt on the genesis, motives and reliability of such announcements by the ROK.

: Visiting Kazakhstan, ROK Unification minister Hong Yong-pyo claims that sanctions are squeezing Kim Jong Un’s ability to raise the funds he need to secure his rule.

: In an editorial headlined “Sanctions haven’t worked,” the JoongAng Ilbo – widely regarded as South Korea’s leading newspaper – criticizes claims that the Northern regime is shaky as “naïve wishful thinking.” It calls for a two-track policy: not only sanctions, but also diplomatic efforts to “draw North Korea to the negotiating table.”

: South Korean vessel rescues a North Korean clutching a styrofoam float near Yeonpyeong island. Three more Northerners defected in a fishing boat earlier in August.

: The NIS claims North Korea recently ordered the adult children of diplomats posted abroad to return home, but says this was not a factor in Thae Yong Ho’s defection.

: Ulchi Freedom Guardian, the annual summer joint US-ROK military exercise, begins, continuing through Sept. 2. As always DPRK media complain, continuing even after the maneuvers end, that this is a disguised rehearsal for invasion.

: North Korean media denounce Thae Yong Ho – not named, but referred to as a “human scum” and “the above-said bete noire,” alleging that he was under investigation in Pyongyang for embezzlement, selling secrets and “rape of a minor.”

: The Hankyoreh reports that the Ningbo 13 have been “released into South Korean society” from the NIS Defector Protection Center. Amid claims from Pyongyang that they were being held under duress, the left-leaning Seoul daily had repeatedly raised concerns about the NIS’s refusal to let them meet the press or be interviewed by independent lawyers.

: MOU reveals that Thae Yong Ho, a long-serving DPRK diplomat in London, has defected to the ROK with his family. The story is widely carried by global media.

: ROK media quote Brazil’s former ambassador in Pyongyang as contradicting official DPRK claims that Choe Ryong Hae, one of Kim Jong Un’s closest aides, who visited Brazil for the Rio Olympics during Aug. 4-10, met and talked with Brazil’s acting President Michel Temer on Aug. 5. Brazilian sources deny that any such meeting ever took place.

: The world swoons at a smiling “selfie” of two young female Korean gymnasts competing at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro: the South’s Lee Eun-ju and the North’s Hong Un Jong. (No prizes for guessing whose phone it was.)

: The ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) reveal that on July 22 guard troops near Gimpo collected “scores of tightly air-filled vinyl bags carrying North Korean leaflets” from the Han River. The “shoddily printed” leaflets celebrated the North’s “victory” in the Korean War, and threatened to attack the South with Musudan missiles. This is the first time the DPRK has sent water-borne propaganda, rather than by air.

: Bank of Korea (BOK) publishes its annual estimates on North Korea’s economy. It reckons Northern GDP fell 1.1 percent in 2015 from 2014, with shrinkage in all sectors except construction. Total DPRK output was a mere 2.2 percent of the ROK’s; per capita gap was 22:1. The South’s total trade (the numbers here are known, but exclude inter-Korean commerce) was 154 times greater than the North’s.

: ROK government source says that, for the first time in 16 years, on July 15 Radio Pyongyang broadcast mysterious numerical codes. In the past these were thought to be instructions to agents, but this time some experts reckon the North is just sowing confusion. Similar signals have also emanated from Seoul, as recently as 2011; the NIS has no comment.

: DPRK offers a new, albeit tough, five-point plan for denuclearization (not only its own). This is widely ignored, being overshadowed by the US levying its first ever sanctions (a) on Kim Jong Un personally and (b) on human rights rather than WMD grounds.

: JoongAng Daily reports that malaria rates in South Korea, near the border with the North, rose 80 percent from 2013 to 2015. A joint inter-Korean anti-malaria project had seen cases in Gyeonggi province fall from 1,007 in 2007 to 490 in 2008 and 382 in 2011, when Seoul ended support from this program. Since then the rate has gone up again. (NB: A graphic in this report in fact shows a less clear linear relationship than the article implies.)

: Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), the DPRK rubber-stamp parliament, holds its annual one-day session. The National Defense Commission (NDC) is replaced as the top executive body by a new State Affairs Commission (SAC). The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) is replaced by the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country (CPRC). It is unclear what this change in nomenclature portends.

: A closed-door hearing at Seoul Central District Court, in a habeas corpus case brought by the left-leaning Lawyers for a Democratic Society (Minbyun), is suspended when the Ningbo 13 all fail to appear, despite a subpoena to do so. Counsel for the NIS say they refused to attend because of fear for their families’ safety in North Korea; adding that the former waitresses had applied for ROK citizenship, and were granted this on June 3.

: Meeting fishermen on the ROK’s northwestern border island of Yeonpyeong, Yoo Jeong-bok, mayor of Incheon, pledges to head off illicit Chinese fishing by pushing for a “system under which our fishermen receive fish from North Koreans in (waters between the two Koreas) and sell them (in the South or elsewhere).”

: South Korea’s National Police Agency (NPA) claims that from July 2014 through Feb. 2016 North Korea hacked two major chaebol, SK and Hanjin. 42,608 documents were stolen and later deleted, including the wing design of the US F-15 jet fighter (made by Hanjin’s affiliate Korean Air). Altogether 140,000 computers at 160 Southern firms were hacked, with malicious code planted in a long-term plan to launch a massive cyberattack. Nonetheless the NPA concludes that overall ROK security was not compromised.

:   MOU confirms that three more ex-staffers at DPRK restaurants in China have recently defected and reached Seoul. Unlike for the Ningbo 13, no further details are given, but the two are thought to have been working in Xian.

: Kim Jong Un’s maternal aunt Ko Yong Suk, who looked after him during his Swiss schooldays, gives her first interview since she defected to the US with her husband in 1998. Inter alia she reveals that her nephew is 32 (born in 1984), not 33 as hitherto thought.

: Institute for Unification Education (IUE), an affiliate of MOU, says it has indefinitely postponed or diverted some 30 of its regular tours to parts of China which border North Korea, following an ROK government advisory warning of terrorism and kidnap risks.

: South Korea’s defense (MND) and technology (ICT) ministries say they are discussing the creation of a cybersecurity reserve force in case of a national network emergency.

: South Korea’s Defense Ministry (MND) rejects the North’s proposal of inter-Korean military talks as “a bogus peace offensive for bogus peace that lacks sincerity”, since it does not mention the nuclear issue. MOU chimes in: “Now is not the time for dialogue.”

: Seoul High Court upholds a three year jail sentence on a South Korean man named only as Park, convicted of planning to kill the senior North Korean defector Hwang Jang Yop. Hwang died of heart failure in 2010 before the plot could be carried out.

: South Korea’s foreign ministry (MFA) calls a meeting of major tour firms and urges them to discourage travel to parts of China bordering North Korea, citing safety fears. A day later MFA says two ROK citizens are missing in the border area.

: MOU’s annual white paper on its work in 2015 reveals, inter alia, that 1,276 DPRK defectors reached the ROK last year, the smallest figure since 2001. Southern aid to the North “soared” to 25.4 billion won ($21.8 million), a six-year high. Cumulative output at the Kaesong zone in its eleven years of existence totaled $3.23 billion.

: Symantec reports that Microsoft has patched a vulnerability issue in Internet Explorer recently used in cyberattacks targeted on South Korea, where almost everyone uses that browser rather than others. (Note: The link is strictly for the technically minded.)

: South Korean companies that had invested in the KIC, and some 50 of their business affiliates and partners, file suit with the ROK Constitutional Court, claiming that the zone’s closure by Seoul was illegal. Yonhap quotes them as saying: “Our own government violated our property rights by shutting down the Kaesong complex with no legal basis.”

: South Korean companies who had invested in the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), together with some 50 of their business affiliates and partners, file suit with the ROK Constitutional Court, claiming that the zone’s closure by Seoul was illegal. Yonhap quotes them as saying: “Our own government violated our property rights by shutting down the Kaesong complex [in February] with no legal basis.”

: Rodong Sinmun quotes Kim Jong Un as saying: “Both the North and the South should respect each other and open a new page … as partners in unification. [They] should alleviate the current military tensions and resolve all matters through communication and negotiation.” In the first instance, the two sides’ militaries should hold talks.

: MOU dismisses Kim Jong Un’s call for North-South talks as “merely [a] propaganda drive with no sincerity” (the English is by Yonhap).

: Headline in Rodong Sinmun, the WPK daily, reads: “Park Geun Hye Group Had Better Stop Recklessly Grumbling about DPRK’s Nuclear Deterrence Any Longer: CPRK Spokesman.” CPRK is the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea.

: Seventh Congress of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) is held in Pyongyang: the first such of its kind since the Sixth Congress in 1980. Kim Jong Un gets a new title as WPK chairman.

: Seventh Congress of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) is held in Pyongyang: the first such of its kind since the Sixth Congress in 1980. Kim Jong Un gets a new title as WPK Chairman: he gives a three hour work report, as well as opening and closing speeches. A grand parade follows the Congress.

: With a detailed graphic comparing the two Koreas on 22 separate indicators, The Economist considers unification prospects. It costs this (conservatively) at $1 trillion.

: The ROK Ministry of Unification (MOU) says South Korea is “on alert for the possibility that the North may try to abduct our citizens or conduct terrorist acts abroad”, in reprisal for the defection – which Pyongyang claims is an abduction – of its 13 restaurant workers from Ningbo (hereafter the Ningbo 13) in China in April.

: MOU says South Korea is “on alert for the possibility that the North may try to abduct our citizens or conduct terrorist acts abroad,” in reprisal for the defection (which Pyongyang claims is an abduction) of its 13 restaurant workers from China.

: A month after the latest bout of jamming of Global Positioning System (GPS) signals, blamed on North Korea, South Korea says it will revive a plan to develop a backup system less vulnerable to interference.

: A month after the latest bout of GPS jamming blamed on North Korea, South Korea says it will revive a plan to develop a backup system less vulnerable to interference.

: Foal Eagle ends. Pyongyang’s rhetoric starts to wind down, slightly.

: North Korea’s Ministry of Land and Environmental Protection denounces a Southern defector group for sending balloons across the DMZ carrying anti-DPRK leaflets.

: South Korea holds parliamentary elections for the 20th National Assembly, whose four-year term commences on May 30. President Park’s ruling conservative Saenuri Party unexpectedly loses its majority, while both parties in the split liberal opposition do well.

: China’s Foreign Ministry says the Ningbo 13 all carried valid passports and left the PRC legally. Most defectors enter China illegally, and if caught are repatriated. The legalities aside, Beijing is seen as sending a signal to Pyongyang.

: North Korea claims the Ningbo group are victims of a “hideous” abduction plot by the ROK. It continues to repeat this claim and demand their return.

: In the largest group defection in years, MOU reveals the arrival in Seoul a day earlier of 13 North Koreans: apparently most of the staff (12 waitresses and a male manager) from an overseas DPRK restaurant, soon revealed to be the Ryugyong in Ningbo, China.

: South Korea reports that Global Positional System (GPS) signals north and west of Seoul are being jammed from five locations in North Korea. Pyongyang denies any responsibility. This continues for a week, affecting the signal reception of over 1,000 aircraft and 700 ships. No accidents are reported, but many fishing vessels have to return to port.

: NKNews reports that a former Kaesong investor attempted suicide with an overdose of sleeping pills. He was found by his daughter, hospitalized and later discharged.

: In just one of many such threats, DPRK media report a statement by the long-range artillery forces of the frontline large combined units of the Korean People’s Army (KPA). Criticizing a South Korean precision strike drill, this threatens that “If Park does not make an official apology, North Korea will take military actions to blow up Cheongwadae.”

: MOU rejects any special law compensation for KIC investors, saying this might cause “unnecessary disputes.” One KIC company owner, Choi Jae-ho, angrily retorts: “Do we really have to burn ourselves to death with gasoline to make changes?”

: Some 1,100 former KIC investors and sub-contractors rally at the Imjingak Mangbaedan Altar in Paju near the DMZ, demanding a special law to compensate them.

: Relatives of the Ningbo 13 demand their return on CNN. One woman says: “Even now my sister is suffering in the accursed South Korea, starving and unconscious…. Those South Korean puppet criminals, I want to tear them to pieces!” Seoul has rebuffed Pyongyang’s charges that some of the group are on hunger strike or in solitary confinement.

: AP reports that ongoing US-ROK military exercises include rehearsing scenarios for “decapitation strikes” to take out the top DPRK leadership in the event of war. Pyongyang’s response to such menacing lèse-majesté is predictably apoplectic.

: South Korea imposes its own unilateral sanctions against North Korea. It also suspends a logistics project to import Russian coal via the DPRK’s Rajin port. Seoul further instructs South Koreans not to patronize DPRK-owned restaurants in third countries.

: The ROK and US begin formal talks on THAAD deployment.

: South Korea’s NIS claims Pyongyang recently hacked into the smartphones of some 50 senior defense-related ROK officials, using text messages to try to lure them into following links to malicious software.

: The ROK-US Combined Forces Command (CFC) announces the start of the usual pair of annual joint military exercises next day. Key Resolve finishes on March 18, while the much larger Foal Eagle continues through April 30.

: ROK Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se exults at the new UNSC sanctions on the DPRK; calling them “full-scale,” “super-strong,” and set to “bring about ‘bone-numbing’ outcomes that the North Korean government couldn’t ever imagine in the past.”

: Pyongyang papers publish, then widely comment on, an article about Park Geun-hye headlined “Ugly Female Bat-Disgrace of Worst Traitor” (sic). This also calls the ROK President “a tailless bitch.” Much similar venom fills DPRK media for several weeks.

: UN Security Council (UNSC) passes a unanimous resolution condemning the DPRK’s January nuclear test and its February missile test. Resolution 2270 includes sanctions much stronger than any previously levied on the DPRK.

: The ROK National Assembly passes two bills, both originally tabled years before, after an 8-day filibuster (a world record) by the liberal Minjoo opposition party, which however fails to stop the ruling conservative Saenuri Party passing an anti-terrorism bill. But the opposition accepts a law on human rights in North Korea, which passes by 212-0.

:   Voice of America highlights the plight of companies that had invested in the KIC, under the headline “Sanctions on North Korea Hurting Businesses in South Korea.”

: President Park warns a meeting of mayors and provincial governors at the Blue House of the threat from North Korea: “New types of threats such as terror (attacks), cyberattacks or biological weapons could occur anywhere.”

: South Koreans continue to debate the Kaesong closure, with critics querying the ROK government’s case and numbers; for example in the left-leaning Hankyoreh daily.

: The NIS warns that the DPRK may target ROK officials for assassination. A prominent North Korean defector in the South has his security detail quadrupled.

: MOU announces the suspension of almost all ROK financial aid to the DPRK.

: Voice of America headlines that the upcoming joint US-ROK military drills Key Resolve and Foal Eagle will be the largest ever held.

: Briefed by the National Intelligence Service (NIS), Lee Chul-woo, a lawmaker of the ruling Saenuri Party, claims Kim Jong Un is preparing terror attacks on the South: “The North can inflict damage on …activists, defectors and government officials  … It could target public facilities and key infrastructure, including subways, shopping malls and power stations.”

: Four F-22 Raptors, the world’s most advanced fighter, arrive at Osan Air Base from Kadena in Japan. One headline reads: “US F-22 Raptors deployed to rattle Pyongyang”.

: Finally addressing the National Assembly (on Kim Jong Il’s birthday), President Park attacks “the runaway Kim Jong Un regime” for its “countless provocations …We can no longer afford to be pushed around by North Korea’s deceit and intimidation.”

: Despite government pledges to ease the losses of ROK investors at Kaesong, press headlines claim its closure means “financial loss and ruin” for the companies concerned.

: Press reports claim that pressure from abroad (specifically, the US and China) prompted Seoul to shut down the Kaesong zone. MOU reportedly pleaded for less drastic measures than total closure, but was overruled by the Blue House.

: In an editorial headlined “A mute President,” the Korea JoongAng Daily, a leading center-right Seoul daily, calls on Park Geun-hye to explain the closure of the KIC: “The commander-in-chief must speak up in times of crisis.”

: Pyongyang orders all South Koreans out of the KIC by 5pm, saying it will “completely freeze all [their] assets including equipment, materials and products.” It also designates the area as a military zone, and says it will sever all inter-Korean hotlines.

: In retaliation for the DPRK’s nuclear test and satellite launch/missile test, the ROK government orders the “complete shutdown” of the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC).

: In the wake of the DPRK rocket launch, Seoul and Washington say they will start talks on deploying the US Terminal High Altitude Aerial Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in South Korea. The ROK had long hesitated, due to strong Chinese opposition.

: Pyongyang announces the successful launch and placing in orbit of a satellite. South Korea, the US, the UN and others condemn this as a violation of UNSC prohibitions on the DPRK engaging in ballistic missile-related activities.

: Seoul press reports quote ROK police and military sources as claiming that the cargo of some recent North Korean propaganda balloons found in the South includes “lots of filth difficult to describe in words,” such as cigarette butts, daily waste and used toilet paper.

: MOU says it suspects North Korea is behind recent cyber-attacks on Southern targets. No details are given.

: Commenting on recent South Korean diplomacy, notably the accord with Japan on comfort women and popular opposition thereto, DPRK media opine that “the current crisis in South Korea is an inevitable product of sycophantic and treacherous politics.”

: A bundle of North Korean leaflets, which fail to separate, crashes onto a car parked in Ilsan near the DMZ, seriously denting its roof.

: North Korea sends leaflets by balloon across the DMZ. As reproduced by the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) – arguably in breach of the National Security Law – these call on South Koreans to “knock out the Park Geun-hye gang” and end psy-war broadcasts.

: ROK JCS says a small DPRK drone briefly crossed the Military Demarcation Line (MDL), retreating when the ROK military fired some 20 warning shots.

: MOU says that from Jan. 12 it will restrict South Koreans’ staying in the KIC to those directly running businesses there. Contractors must go in and out the same day.

: MOU says that from Jan. 12 it will restrict South Koreans’ staying in the KIC to those directly running businesses there. Contractors must go in and out the same day.

: Yonhap reports ROK Defense Minister Han Min-koo as telling Army Missile Command commanders during a field inspection the previous day that “If the enemy provokes, retaliate speedily and accurately without hesitation.”

: KCNA reports Kim Jong Un as visiting the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces (MPAF). Offering New Year congratulations on the “H-bomb” test, Kim also “informed them of the complicated situation which the Korean revolution is now facing.”

: A US B-52 Stratofortress strategic bomber flies low over Osan Air Force Base south of Seoul, accompanied by ROK F-15 and US F-16 fighters, in a show of force also described as a training mission. The B-52 later returns to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.

: Yonhap reports ROK Defense Minister Han Min-koo as telling Army Missile Command commanders during a field inspection the previous day that “If the enemy provokes, retaliate speedily and accurately without hesitation.”

: KCNA reports Kim Jong Un as visiting the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces (MPAF). Offering New Year congratulations on the “H-bomb” test, Kim also “informed them of the complicated situation which the Korean revolution is now facing.”

: A US B-52 Stratofortress strategic bomber flies low over Osan Air Force Base south of Seoul, accompanied by ROK F-15 and US F-16 fighters, in a show of force also described as a training mission. The B-52 later returns to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.

: South Korea marks Kim Jong Un’s 33rd birthday by switching on its propaganda loudspeakers along the DMZ. The ROK’s liberal main opposition Minjoo party warns that this may raise tensions and stoke uncertainty. North Korea denounces the move as a provocation and activates its own south-facing speakers, which are less powerful.

: The North’s Korean Central Broadcasting Station (KCBS) TV airs images of Kim Jong Un giving field guidance during an ejection test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) supposedly conducted on Dec. 21 in the East Sea.

: South Korea marks Kim Jong Un’s 33rd birthday by switching on its propaganda loudspeakers along the DMZ. The ROK’s liberal main opposition Minjoo party warns that this may raise tensions and stoke uncertainty. North Korea denounces the move as a provocation and activates its own south-facing speakers, which are less powerful.

: The North’s Korean Central Broadcasting Station (KCBS) TV airs images of Kim Jong Un giving field guidance during an ejection test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) supposedly conducted on Dec. 21 in the East Sea.

: MOU says it will restrict ROK entry into the KIC to business persons directly invested there. It is unclear how far this is actually implemented, at first.

: Calling the North’s nuclear test a “grave violation” of the Aug. 25 inter-Korean agreement, Cho Tae-yong, deputy chief of national security in the ROK presidential office, says the South will resume propaganda broadcasts across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

: Won Yoo-chul, floor leader of the ROK’s ruling conservative Saenuri Party, says South Korea should consider creating its own nuclear potential for self-defense.

: MOU says it will restrict ROK entry into the KIC to business persons directly invested there. It is unclear how far this is actually implemented, at first.

: Calling the North’s nuclear test a “grave violation” of the Aug. 25 inter-Korean agreement, Cho Tae-yong, deputy chief of national security in the ROK presidential office, says the South will resume propaganda broadcasts across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

: Won Yoo-chul, floor leader of the ROK’s ruling conservative Saenuri Party, says South Korea should consider creating its own nuclear potential for self-defense.

: Denouncing the North’s nuclear test, South Korea vows close cooperation with allies and the global community to punish this.

: Denouncing the North’s nuclear test, South Korea vows close cooperation with allies and the global community to punish this.

: JoongAng Ilbo reports a Red Cross survey on the 412 Southern separated family members who participated in October’s reunions. 167 (40 percent) said the event left them unhappy, while 100 reported emotional distress such as depression and insomnia.

: Kim Jong Un’s New Year speech lays less emphasis on inter-Korean issues than last year’s, and is more “finger-wagging” in tone. Mostly it focuses on domestic policy.

: Kim Jong Un’s New Year speech lays less emphasis on inter-Korean issues than last year’s, and is more “finger-wagging” in tone. Mostly it focuses on domestic policy.

: KCNA reports that Kim Yang Gon, the DPRK’s point man on the ROK, died in a car crash early the previous day. Kim’s state funeral on Jan. 1 does not quash speculation in Seoul that someone – not necessarily a tearful Kim Jong Un – wanted him out of the way.

:   MOU reports more South Koreans as visiting the North this year, especially since the Aug. 25 accord.

: MOU’s briefing on what it calls the First Vice Minister Level Talks confirms that they broke down due to the two sides’ irreconcilable differences on priorities and agenda.

: Data from the ROK’s Statistics Korea show that the inter-Korean chasm in economic performance, already huge, widened further in 2014. With twice as many people as the North, South Korea produces 13 times more energy and 59 times more steel. The South’s total trade of $1.1 trillion was 144 times bigger than the North’s $7.6 billion.

: After a second full day, the North-South talks break down with no joint statement or even a date to meet again. The North demanded a resumption of tourism to Mt. Kumgang, linking this to further family reunions. The South refused on both counts.

: Inter-Korean talks are held at Kaesong. Vice Unification Minister Kim Boo-gi leads the ROK delegation; his DPRK counterpart is CPRK vice director Jon Jong Su.

: In a telephone interview Lee Kang, husband of Ko Yong Suk, tells Yonhap they fled to the US in fear they might be victimized when Kim Jong Il died: “I had felt the cruelty of power.” Lee says he now runs a laundry business. Ko also wanted to seek medical help for her sister Ko Yong Hui, Kim Jong Un’s mother, who died of breast cancer in Paris in 2004.

: The ROK Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CBCK) says it hopes to send priests regularly to the DPRK to jointly celebrate major holy days. On possibly training Northern priests, Archbishop Kim Hui-jung says: “That’s not something we can discuss at present.”

: Ten containers of bottled water produced by Nongshim, the ROK’s top noodle maker, at a plant in Erdaobaihe, China close to Mount Paekdu reach Busan, having been first trucked to the DPRK’s Rajin port and then shipped to Busan.

: MOU says it will start collecting on soft loans extended in 2010 to firms hit by that year’s sanctions on trade with and investment in North Korea. A total of 32.5 billion won ($28.1 million) will be sought from 150 out of 168 borrowers.

: A lawyer in Seoul acting for Ko Yong Suk, Kim Jong Un’s maternal aunt and former guardian in Switzerland who fled to the US in 1998 with her husband, files suit against three prominent defectors for allegedly defaming her. She is not expected to appear in court.

: MOU says 23 ROK lexicographers will meet with DPRK colleagues in Dalian, China on Dec. 7-13 to continue work on the dictionary project.

: A 17-strong delegation of South Korean Roman Catholics, led by Archbishop Kim Hui-hung and including five bishops, visits North Korea at the invitation of the latter’s Catholic Association. They celebrate Mass at Pyongyang’s Changchung Cathedral, the DPRK’s sole functioning Catholic church.

: Working discussions at Panmunjom agree to hold vice-ministerial talks on Dec. 11 at the Kaesong complex. ROK media reaction includes disappointment that the level is not higher, and fears of a repeat of 2013’s protocol row in case the North sends someone whom the South deems too junior.

: The two Koreas exchange delegate lists for the Nov. 26 working meeting on high-level talks at Panmunjom. The South’s three-strong team will be led by Kim Ki-woong, head of MOU’s special office for inter-Korean dialogue; the North’s by Hwang Chol, a senior CPRK official who has taken part in previous North-South talks.

: MOU reports a partial setback for its Rajin logistics project. The Russian coal shipments are on track, but heavy snow on DPRK roads is delaying another trial consignment comprising ten container-loads of bottled water from China.

: North Korea’s CPRK sends a message to the South’s MOU via Panmunjom proposing a working-level meeting there on Nov. 26 about arranging high-level talks. The South accepts with alacrity.

: MOU announces the third test operation over the past year of a project to import Russian coal by rail and ship using the DPRK’s Rajin port. 120,000 tons will be shipped to three ROK ports by Nov. 30. A 20-strong Southern team, including the three ROK firms involved and government officials, will stay in Rajin until Nov. 20 to check how its facilities function. This pet project of President Park is exempt from the May 24 sanctions.

: North Korea repatriates via Panmunjom a South Korean aged 48, named only as Lee, who entered the DPRK from China in September for reasons unknown.

: Rodong Sinmun calls for opening an “epochal” new phase in inter-Korean ties: “Whether North-South relations improve or not depends on what attitude the North and the South have and how they approach the problem”

: Citing a range of examples, Yonhap’s “Topic of the Week” headline predicts: “Inter-Korean relations likely turn for better after reunions of separated families.”

: 162 ROK trade unionists – the largest Southern group to go North for five years – fly to Pyongyang for a friendly soccer competition with their DPRK counterparts.

: Second round of family reunions takes place. Some 250 South Koreans from 90 families meet their Northern close kin. DPRK Red Cross Chairman Ri Chung Bok tells ROK counterpart Kim Sung-joo he is ready to discuss regular reunions and consider letter exchanges.

: Family reunions are held at Mount Kumgang, as agreed. 389 members of 96 Southern families drive across the DMZ in 16 buses to meet 141 Northern relatives. They get six private meetings, totaling just 12 hours of private contact, during the three-day event.

: ROK Vice Unification Minister Hwang Boo-gi says North-South civilian exchanges are expanding rapidly, and may soon reach levels not seen for seven years. He attributes this to a positive shift in policy in Pyongyang.

: Local ROK court rules that authorities may stop leaflet launches across the DMZ if it would endanger citizens in border areas. MOU says this confirms official policy, but stresses that the government is not empowered to restrict freedom of speech by an outright ban.

: ROK officials reveal that on Oct. 7 the DPRK without notice released water from its Hwanggang dam on the Imjin River.

: Yonhap cites unnamed ROK government sources as saying that in late August the (North) Korean People’s Army (KPA) replaced the front-line commander involved in that month’s landmine blasts at the DMZ. Commander of the Second Corps Kim Sang Ryong was reassigned to command the 9th corps, well away from the border.

:  Uriminzokkiri website denies that the DPRK was behind hacking attacks on two servers of the subway operator Seoul Metro in 2014 saying that, “Whenever cyber attacks occur, South Korea blindly criticizes us without presenting any proof.”

: The Koreas exchange final lists of participants in upcoming family reunions.

: MOU says that some 100 artifacts unearthed in a joint archaeological dig at the Koryo dynasty Manwoldae palace in Kaesong will go on display soon, there and in Seoul. In fact no pieces cross the border, but holograms of them are displayed.

: MOU rebuts an opposition lawmaker’s claims that drought in North Korea is threatening the Kaesong IC’s operations

: The DPRK deports Joo Won-moo, a 21 year old NYU student resident in the US but an ROK national, via Panmunjom. It arrested him in April for trying to illegally enter the North from China. Seoul calls for the release of three other South Koreans detained in the North.

: Following up on a July visit, South Korean forestry experts visit Mt. Kumgang to help Northern colleagues treat pest-infested pine trees. The South is providing insecticide and sprayers worth 130 million won ($109,000).

: MOU says that the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), the last remaining inter-Korean joint venture, produced goods worth a cumulative $3 billion since it opened in 2004.

: The North’s CPRK fiercely attacks Park’s comments at the UNGA, warning that they put the planned family reunions at risk.

: Addressing the UNGA, Park Geun-hye calls on North Korea not to launch a long-range rocket. She tells the North to help its people out of difficulties through reform and openness instead of carrying out additional provocations, while urging Pyongyang also to give up nuclear arms and heed international concern on its human rights record.

: Rodong Sinmun says that no one may “slander or infringe on” the DPRK’s exercise of independent rights, such as launching satellites or bolstering its nuclear deterrence.

: Talking to thinktanks in New York, President Park vows to boost cooperation with the US, China and other regional powers to achieve Korean unification, which she calls the “fundamental solution” to the North’s nuclear and human rights concerns. She airs similar themes with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, himself a former ROK foreign minister.

: The North’s National Reconciliation Council (NRC) urges South Korea not to pass a bill on human rights in the North, calling this “an evil law inciting confrontation.”

: North Korea demands the repatriation of Kim Ryon-hui, a defector who now   claims she was forcibly taken to South Korea by a broker who helps refugees.

: Yonhap says Pyongyang is lukewarm on implementing the Aug. 25 agreement, for two reasons: preoccupation with preparing for its upcoming Party 70th anniversary celebrations on Oct. 10, and divergent agendas. Rebuffing sports and cultural exchanges, the North wants the South to lift economic sanctions first.

: The Secretariat of the (North’s) Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) attacks what it calls South Korea’s plan to set up a special warfare command to strike the North’s nuclear facilities as a “foolish self-destructive act.”

: North Korean website Uriminzokkiri warns that anti-DPRK leafleteers may jeopardize the prospects for family reunions: “How can the separated families between the two Koreas … afford to meet together under the sky of flying leaflets against North Korea?”

: Both Korean foreign ministers and President Park Geun-hye visit New York to attend the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA). As last year, neither side avails of this opportunity to arrange bilateral meetings of any kind.

: An ROK civic group says the DPRK is rebuffing its efforts to arrange a joint celebration of National Foundation Day on Oct 3. A Southern delegation went North for this last year, and it was marked jointly in 2002, 2003 and 2005.

: MOU reveals that North Korea refused its invitation to participate in an Aug. 5 ceremony marking the start of work to restore the Gyeongwon railway line.

: Chung Mong-gyu, president of the ROK’s Korea Football Association (KFA), returns from the 46th East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) Executive Committee meeting in Pyongyang. Chung briefly met his DPRK counterpart Ri Yong Nam to suggest exhibition matches and joint training sessions. But Ri said this needed further discussion.

: Park Sang-hak, head of Fighters for a Free North Korea, says his group sent leaflets by balloon across the DMZ to protest Pyongyang’s recent missile and nuclear threats.

: Southern officials and technicians spend two days at Mt. Kumgang, checking the resort’s largely disused facilities ahead of upcoming family reunions. MOU says on Sept. 18 it will send in a technical team to carry out necessary repairs.

: KCNA reports the head of the Atomic Energy Institute as saying that all facilities at Yongbyon nuclear complex have “started normal operations.”

: Taking a train to Cheorwon on the Gyeongwon line, Unification Minister Hong calls this “a path of unification and hope extending to the world.” South Korea is rebuilding 9.3km of track from Cheorwon up to the DMZ.

: The director of the DPRK’s National Aerospace Development Administration tells KCNA that “the world will clearly see a series of satellites … soaring into the sky at the times and locations determined by the WPK Central Committee.”

: ROK Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo says that “many types of civilian inter-Korean exchanges” are possible without breaching Seoul’s sanctions on Pyongyang – which he says will continue unless the North sincerely apologizes for sinking the Cheonan.

: Gen. Choi Yoon-hee, chairman of the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), says any fresh DPRK nuclear or long-range missile test would create an “abnormal situation” in terms of the Aug. 25 accord, causing Seoul to resume loudspeaker broadcasts at the DMZ.

: A Seoul court sentences Kim Ki-jong, an avowedly pro-DPRK activist who knifed US Ambassador Mark Lippert at a seminar in March as a protest against US-ROK military drills, to 12 years in jail for attempted murder and other charges.

: South Korea’s Unification Ministry (MOU) proposes a budget for 2016 of 1.49 trillion won ($1.26 billion), up 1.6 per cent from this year, “to reflect the government’s will to improve ties with North Korea.”

: An opinion poll in the Seoul daily JoongAng Ilbo shows growing hostility to and declining interest in North Korea among South Koreans, especially those in their 20s.

: ROK Defense Ministry (MND) suggests the DPRK may mark 70th anniversary of the founding of the WPK on Oct. 10 by testing a long-range missile. MND also says the South will “conduct aggressive military operations at the DMZ” to counter Northern provocations.

: ROK Red Cross says its computers have picked a preliminary batch of 500 candidates for upcoming family reunions. This will be halved to 250 on criteria of health and willingness. The final 100 will be based on whosever relatives the DPRK comes up with.

: Marzuki Darusman, the UN special rapporteur on DPRK human rights, says during a five-day visit to Seoul that pursuit of inter-Korean unification and ensuring North Korea’s responsibility for its human rights violations are mutually reinforcing goals.

: Speaking at the Seoul Defense Dialogue (SDD), the only multilateral security meeting hosted by the ROK, Park Geun-hye urges North Korea to embrace reform and opening. (The DPRK was invited to the SDD, but scornfully declined.)

: Meeting Jin Liqun, president-designate of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), President Park proposes a complementary Northeast Asia Development Bank to develop North Korea’s infrastructure – provided it denuclearizes.

: ROK opposition leader Moon Jae-in says inter-party differences over a bill on North Korean human rights, which has been under discussion in the National Assembly for 11 years, could be bridged within a day.

: The Koreas agree on a date for family reunions: Oct. 20-26. Venue and format will be as usual: two sessions of three days each, with 100 elderly persons from each Korea meeting any kin the other side can trace at the North’s Southern-built Mt. Kumgang resort.

: Daejeon District Court acquits a 23-year-old student charged with violating the National Security Law by praising socialism and making pro-North statements on Facebook. Judge Song Kyung-ho says: “Just writing on Facebook doesn’t lead to instigating rebellion.”

: Pursuant to their Aug. 25 six-point agreement, the Koreas begin preliminary Red Cross talks at the border village of Panmunjom about arranging fresh reunions of family members separated for over 60 years since the 1950-53 Korean War.

: KCNA headline reads “Rodong Sinmun Urges S. Korea Not to Do Foul Behavior.” The WPK daily warns ROK rightwing media not to spoil the mood for dialogue.

:  Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) headline reads: “Rodong Sinmun Urges S. Korea Not to Do Foul Behavior.” It cites the daily paper of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) as warning right-wing ROK media not to spoil the mood for dialogue.

: ROK President Park Geun-hye is one of only two heads of states allied to the US to visit Beijing for events, including a military parade, marking the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in 1945.

: 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.

: South Korea says it will promote civilian exchange with and increase aid to the North. Seoul hopes for joint projects in areas such as culture, history, and sports.

: South Korea says it will promote civilian exchange with and increase aid to the North. Seoul hopes for joint projects in areas such as culture, history, and sports.

: MOU’s 2015 white paper on unification reports that inter-Korean trade more than doubled year-on-year in 2014 to reach a record $2.343 billion. (2013 saw a slump due to the lengthy closure of the Kaesong IC, which accounts for almost 100 percent of trade.)

: A convoy of Ace Gyeongam trucks drives North to deliver aid materials. The ROK government says it is not planning to resume large-scale food or fertilizer assistance.

: MOU approves the first fertilizer aid to North Korea since 2010, a modest 15 tons, as part of a greenhouse project in Sariwon by Ace Gyeongam (see also April 28).

: This year’s Foal Eagle joint US-ROK military maneuvers are concluded.

: After meeting with Northern officials in the KIC, a representative of South Korean businesses invested there says the North has extended its deadline for payment of March’s wages from today until April 24. None of the firms has yet paid.

: MND says it will raise defense spending during the 2016-20 quinquennium by 8.7 trillion won ($8.03 billion) more than it had planned. The extra will go on enhancing pre-emptive strike and air defense capabilities, based on an assessment that North Korea has made significant progress in its ability to miniaturize nuclear warheads to fit atop missiles.

: MOU says that on April 16-17 a second consignment of Russian bituminous coal, 140,000 tons in all, will travel by rail across the border from Khasan in Russia to North Korea’s Rajin port city, and be shipped thence to three west coast ports in South Korea. The buyers are steelmaker Posco and power generator Kepco. Full delivery is expected by May 9. The first such consignment of 40,500 tons arrived in Ulsan last November.

: Kim Yoon-suk, secretary general of the Gwangju Universiade Organizing Committee (GUOC), says there will be no unified Korean team at the games.

: Referring to the April 20 deadline set by North Korea, MOU says it will not be restrained by any specific timetable in seeking to resolve the Kaesong wages row.

: A four-strong delegation headed by Jang Jong-nam, vice president of the DPRK National University Sports Federation, flies into Seoul via Beijing to take part in the Heads of Delegation (HoD) meeting and draw for the 2015 Summer Universiade (world student games) to be held in Gwangju, ROK in July (3-14). The Northern delegates fly home on April 14.

: Uriminzokkiri, a DPRK website based in China, threatens to “bombard (South Korea) with blows of fire” if leaflet launches continue: “Our patience is wearing thin.”

: ROK police prevent activist Park Hang-sak from launching balloons across the DMZ carrying copies of the film The Interview.

: The South’s Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo vows to “work harder to open a channel of dialogue” with the North. He also calls for more joint projects.

: Officials from both Koreas hold their first direct meeting about the Kaesong pay dispute at the eponymous industrial complex (KIC). Despite talk of “positive signs,” no concrete progress is made.

: Blue House says Brig. Gen. Shin In-seop, former deputy commander of the ROK military cybercommand, will take up the new post of Presidential secretary for cybersecurity, created principally to combat North Korean cyber-attacks.

: MOU says it will formally instruct ROK firms invested in the Kaesong IC not to pay the wage increase imposed by the DPRK.

: A year after President Park’s Dresden Declaration, South Korea says it still hopes the North will respond in some form to the proposals therein.

: On the fifth anniversary of the sinking of the Cheonan, President Park says she “hopes North Korea abandons its reckless provocations and belief that nuclear weapons can protect the country,” but does not directly accuse Pyongyang of responsibility. Ignoring that nuance, on March 29 the North accuses Park of inciting North-South confrontation.

: Puncturing the party line in both Seoul and Washington, Kim Moo-sung – chairman of the South’s ruling Saenuri Party and a likely presidential contender in 2017 – tells students in Busan that after three tests North Korea should be viewed as a nuclear power.

: In Hanoi, ROK parliamentary speaker Chung Ui-hwa urges President Truong Tan Sang to invite Kim Jong Un to Vietnam “at the earliest date possible” so he can learn from Vietnam’s Doi Moi reforms. Sang replies that DPRK titular head of state Kim Yong Nam visited in 2012, and “listened attentively” when briefed on the reform program.

: Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries says the (South) Korea Maritime Institute will soon sign an agreement with the FAO for a joint study on pisciculture in North Korea. FAO plans to raise $26.5 million to build new fish farms there.

: US-ROK Key Resolve computer-based exercise concludes.

: ROK National Assembly confirms Hong Yong-pyo as the new Minister of Unification. He was previously Blue House senior secretary with the same portfolio.

: Seoul press reports quote Chung Chong-wook, vice chairman of the ROK’s Presidential Committee for Unification Preparation (PCUP), as telling a forum that PCUP has “a team dedicated to non-consensual unification” of Korea, implying a regime change agenda. Two days later Chung denies that any such team exists and says he was misunderstood.

: A pro-North activist, Kim Ki-jong, slashes US Ambassador Mark Lippert at a forum in Seoul, wounding him bloodily in the face and arm. Serious injury is narrowly avoided. DPRK media applaud the attack as a “knife shower of justice.”

: ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) report that North Korea launched two presumed short-range ballistic missiles from Nampo on its west coast into the East Sea (Sea of Japan); meaning they overflew the DPRK from coast to coast.

: Combined Forces Command (CFC) announces the schedule for this spring’s two regular US-ROK joint military maneuvers. Both will begin on March 2. The computer-based Key Resolve ends on March 13, while the far larger and longer field training exercise Foal Eagle, which mobilizes 200,000 South Korean and 3,700 US forces, will continue until April 24.

: At an enlarged meeting of the WPK Central Military Commission (CMC), Kim Jong Un inter alia “clarifie[s] the methods of fighting a war with the US imperialists.”

:   DPRK media report Kim Jong Un as guiding artillery units of the KPA in a “drill for striking and seizing island” (sic). This appears based of the shelling of the ROK’s Yeonpyeong in November 2010, which killed four. There is a specific warning against firing towards the North Korean littoral, no doubt with an eye to upcoming US-ROK war games.

: Kim Jong Un presides over an enlarged meeting of the Politburo of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK). Several speeches warn against “shortcomings,” including “abuse of power, bureaucratism, irregularities and corruption.” Official mention of the last is thought to be unprecedented, though the reality is widespread in today’s North Korea

: A survey reports South Koreans as divided by age over the KIC’s shutdown. Younger citizens mostly oppose this, whereas their elders tend to approve.

: Rodong Sinmun savages Lee Myung-bak over his recent memoir: “No wonder … the lying bastard is so forgetful, his brain capacity is known to be less than 2 megabytes”. (This reprises an old pun: Lee MB also means 2 megabytes, i.e., not much processing power.)

: South Korea’s Red Cross (KNRC) says the North refused its offer to provide 25 tons of powdered milk for infants. A 20 ton aid package was sent in 2009.

: Lee Myung-bak publishes President’s Time, an 800 page memoir about his presidency (2008-13). Much trailed ahead of publication, it reveals several secret dealings with North Korea. Critics fear this will harm future diplomacy and inter-Korean relations.

: MOU says the ROK will give $3.1 million to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) to finance its next census of the DPRK, in 2018 – a decade after the 2008 census, which South Korea also funded to the tune of $2.3 million. It will also spend $2.9 million to support a jointly produced North-South “Big Dictionary of the Korean People’s Language.”

: Rodong Sinmun, daily paper of the ruling Workers Party (WPK), repeats a demand by the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) that South Korea must scrap its “May 24 measures” (sanctions) as a precondition for dialogue.

: MOU announces a 90 million won ($83,000) grant from the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund to resume support for training DPRK doctors in Germany. The ROK had funded this program in 2007 and 2008, but withdrew support under Lee Myung-bak.

: Famed North Korean defector Shin Dong-hyuk, subject of the book Escape From Camp 14, apologizes for several inaccuracies in his account of his tribulations.

: Lee Min-bok (see Jan. 6 above) says that in response to a government request “we’re not going to excessively spread anti-North Korea leaflets for the time being.”

: Following the Uijeongbu court ruling (see Jan. 6), both South Korea’s two main parties call on the government to review its stand on cross-border leaflet launches. The liberal opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD)’s Heo Young-il says these should be “actively restrained”; the conservative ruling Saenuri party’s Kim Young-woo says: “The state has a duty to protect the lives and property of its people … The government should make a careful and suitable judgment.”

: North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) castigates the latest leaflet balloon launch as a “reckless act” and a “blatant challenge,” out of step with the North’s “goodwill and generosity.” It again demands that Seoul prevent such activities.

: ROK Defense Ministry (MND)’s biennial defense White Paper claims inter alia that the KPA has grown by 10,000, and its cyber-forces (mainly targeting the South) have doubled to 6,000. It retains the designation of North Korea as main enemy, reintroduced in 2012, and also formally acknowledges the North’s nuclear weapons for the first time.

: MOU says it will release funds from the official Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund (IKCF) for private aid to North Korea. 13 NGOs will share some 3 billion won ($2.7 million) for 17 health, farming, and livestock projects in the North. This is the first such aid Seoul has allowed since imposing sanctions in May 2010 after the sinking of the Cheonan.

: South Korean daily JoongAng Daily reports a claim that the key DPRK leader Hwang Pyong So is of South Korean origin. His father Hwang Pil-gu was a communist who went North, returned as a spy, was arrested in 1959, killed himself in jail in 1985, and is buried in his home area Gochang in North Jeolla. Interviews with South Korean relatives appear to confirm the family tree, although other sources are skeptical of any connection.

: Campaign for Helping North Korea in Direct Way (sic), a group led by defector Lee Min-bok, launches 20 balloons across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). They carry 600,000 leaflets that denounce the DPRK regime for causing extreme poverty. MOU says it has no power to prevent this. However, the same day a district court at Uijeongbu, north of Seoul, rules that the government may legally restrain leaflet launches if these put the lives of ROK citizens at risk. It thus dismisses Lee’s suit claiming that official attempts to restrain him had caused him psychological damage.

: South Korea’s Unification Ministry (MOU) says it allowed a private aid group to send 20 tons of sweet potatoes for children in Sinuiju, DPRK, the first unprocessed crop sent since Park Geun-hye took office. The ROK government fears that raw crops might be diverted to the Korean People’s Army (KPA).

: President Park tells a meeting of top officials that “unification is not idealism or a dream,” and says her government “will try its utmost on practical preparations needed for tangible and real [unification] to be realized.” ROK officials cautiously assess the DPRK’s offer as positive.

: President Park tells a meeting of top officials that “unification is not idealism or a dream”; she says her government “will try its utmost on practical preparations needed for tangible and real [unification] to be realized.” ROK officials cautiously assess the DPRK’s offer as positive.

: Kim Jong Un says in his New Year address: “… it is possible to resume the suspended high-level contacts and hold sectoral talks if the south Korean authorities are sincere in their stand towards improving inter-Korean relations …And there is no reason why we should not hold a summit meeting if the atmosphere and environment for it are created.”

: Kim Jong Un says in his New Year address: “… it is possible to resume the suspended high-level contacts and hold sectoral talks if the south Korean authorities are sincere in their stand towards improving inter-Korean relations …And there is no reason why we should not hold a summit meeting if the atmosphere and environment for it are created.”

: MOU says that in 2015 it will provide North Korea with $620,000 in aid via the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), as part of a $4.17 million technical assistance and training program ongoing since 2006.

: In a New Year video message uploaded to YouTube and also posted on her Facebook page, President Park says she will “open the path toward unification by laying substantial and specific groundwork [and] ending a seven-decades-long division.”

: Uriminzokkiri, a website run by the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK), blasts a recent trilateral intelligence-sharing pact between South Korea, Japan, and the US as a “military provocation” aimed at “invading our country.”

: Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae announces that South Korea has sent a faxed message to the North proposing minister-level talks in January, without preconditions.

: Two ROK delegations, from Hyundai Group and the Kim Dae Jung Peace Center (KDJPC) visit Kaesong, invited by Kim Yang Gon to thank them for a wreath in memory of Kim Jong Il delivered a week earlier (Kim’s deputy Won Dong Yon had thanked them at the time).

: MOFA says it expects the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)’s new field office, dedicated to monitoring human rights abuses in North Korea, to open in Seoul in the first quarter of 2015.

: The ROK MOFA welcomes the plenary UNGA’s adoption Dec. 18 of a strongly worded resolution on DPRK human rights, including encouraging the  Security Council to consider referring the situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

: In an unprecedented ruling, the ROK Constitutional Court orders (by 8-1) the dissolution of the small far-left Unified Progressive Party (UPP).

: MOU says North Korea has refused to accept a faxed letter protesting its scrapping a 5 percent annual wage rise cap and other unilateral revisions of working conditions for around 53,000 employees at the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC).

: (North) Korean Council of Religionists (KCR) says a plan by the Christian Council of Korea (CCK) to erect a Christmas-tree shaped tower on top of Aegibong, a front-line hill in Gimpo, west of Seoul, aims to use religion to fuel confrontation. A previous tower which stood for 43 years was taken down as unsafe by the ROK military, but on Dec. 2 Seoul gave permission for another. In the event the CCK decides not to go ahead.

: MOU says the South returned 10 Northern fishermen and their boat found drifting with engine trouble near Dokdo on Nov. 23.

: Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-Jae urges the ROK National Assembly to pass a bill on North Korea’s human rights abuses to create a legal basis for “systemic” efforts to address the problem, and give a ray of hope to North Korean people.

: Hyun Jeong-eun, chairwoman of Hyundai Group, returns from Mt. Kumgang after visiting to mark the 16th anniversary of Hyundai’s tours there, suspended since 2008.

: CPRF attacks the South’s Hoguk war games – the largest ever with 330,000 troops, running Nov. 10-22 – as a prelude to war and proof that Seoul does not want dialogue.

: The New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), South Korea’s liberal main opposition party, moves a bill that would require cross-border leafleteers to obtain prior government permission.

: MOU says North Korea has asked for Ebola detection devices at the joint venture Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC). Other foreign visitors to the DPRK must serve a 21-day quarantine, even diplomats. South agrees to lend three thermal image scanners for the purpose.

: North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland (CPRF) says that Park Geun-hye’s plan to unveil a new charter for reunification in 2015 “demonstrates the South’s pursuit of unification by absorption.”

: Ignoring warnings from North Korea and objections by local residents in the Paju area, who initially block their passage with tractors, anti-DPRK activists again send balloons carrying critical leaflets across the DMZ into North Korea

: South Korea’s Foreign Ministry (MOFA) says it has invited North Korea to an upcoming (Oct. 28-30) forum in Seoul to discuss and advance President Park’s Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative (NAPCI). Pyongyang does not respond, much less attend.

: Two ROK business organizations involved in inter-Korean commerce call on the South to lift its sanctions. One says that 2,000 Southern firms used to do business with the North, “but now it is even impossible to exactly determine who is still afloat.”

: Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-Jae tells the [South] Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation: “If the South and the North hold talks, almost all issues can be resolved.” Pyongyang has not responded to Seoul’s proposal to meet on Oct. 30.

: MND says Pyongyang sent a telephone message claiming its DMZ patrols are routine and legitimate, and threatening reaction if Seoul fires at them again.

: On consecutive days, near Cheolwon and then Paju in the central and western zones respectively, groups of KPA soldiers approach the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) which bisects the DMZ. They retreat when the South fires warning shots; on Oct. 19 the North returns fire.

: KCNA releases an “open report” on “the whole story of how the north-south emergency contact in Panmunjom on Wednesday ended without any fruit.”

: MOU says it will pay 550 million won ($520,000) or some 70 percent of North Korea’s costs for participating in the Incheon Asiad. The North already paid $191,682.

: KCNA reports visits by Kim Jong Un to the newly built Wisong Scientists Residential District and the Natural Energy Institute of the State Academy of Sciences. This is the DPRK leader’s first public appearance for six weeks, since Sept. 3.

: The South proposes Oct. 30 as the date for high-level inter-Korean talks.

: The two Koreas exchange machine-gun fire after the North apparently tries to shoot down propaganda balloons. Spent rounds are found near Yeoncheon in the South, which fires back after issuing warnings. No casualties are reported, or intended.

: Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun of the ruling conservative Saenuri Party says the total area of the five main concentration camps in North Korea’s gulag is 1,248 sq km, more than twice the size of Seoul (605 sq km). The notorious Yodok alone covers 552 sq km.

: ROK foreign minister queries claims by the US-based Institute for Science and International Security that North Korea has temporarily shut down its plutonium-producing nuclear reactor at Yongbyon.

: MOU says that the North’s delegation paid part of the charges for its stay in the Incheon athletes’ village before returning home, and that the South will cover the rest from its official Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund (IKCF).

: ROK Defense Ministry tells a parliamentary audit that “after declaring 2015 the year of completing unification, North Korea has been prepared for full-scale wars” (sic).

: ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) report that patrol boats of the two Koreas’ navies exchanged fire for 10 minutes at 0950 near Yeonpyeong Island. The South fired back, and the Northern boat retreated. Neither side sustained casualties or damage.

: MOU says that despite North Korea’s sudden conciliatory gesture in sending a high-level delegation, it has no plan to lift economic sanctions imposed in May 2010 after the Cheonan sinking: “Our government’s basic position is that the May 24th Measures can be lifted only after North Korea takes a responsible step that the South Korean people accept.”

: The Asian Games conclude in Incheon. The closing ceremony is unexpectedly attended by three of North Korea’s most senior leaders: Vice-Marshal Han Pyong So, Choe Ryong Hae, and Kim Yang Gon. Meeting South Korean ministers (but not President Park), it is agreed to hold high-level talks within a month. The visitors fly home the same day.

: Also in New York for the UNGA (which he addresses the same day), DPRK Foreign Minister Ri Yong Su tells the Voice of America that the South had not suggested meeting, adding: “Even if it did, I do not intend to meet Minister Yun given his behavior.”

: KCNA reports that the DPRK athletics team at Incheon held an “evening longing for respected Marshal Kim Jong Un,” with songs and speeches pining for the Leader.

: The Policy Department of the DPRK National Defence Commission (NDC) strongly attacks President Park for various comments during her recent US trip.

: President Park Geun-hye makes a keynote speech at the UN Climate Summit in New York. She criticizes North Korea for its record on nuclear weapons and human rights.

: ROK Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se is among the speakers at the first-ever ministerial forum held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), organized by the US. The topic of the brief half-hour meeting is North Korean human rights abuses, which Yun, US Secretary of State John Kerry, and others criticize.

: Both North and South Korea, separately, say there are no plans for their two foreign ministers to meet while both are in New York for the UNGA.

: The 17th Asian Games (XVII Asiad) open in Incheon. A full team of athletes from the DPRK is among the 45 states participating.

: North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reports (full text): “The delegation of the DPRK Olympic Committee led by Chairman Kim Yong Hun, minister of Physical Culture and Sports, and the DPRK players group led by Kim Pyong Sik, vice-minister of Physical Culture and Sports, left here Tuesday to take part in the 17th Asian Games.” It does not mention that their destination is Incheon in South Korea.

: ROK government panel confirms 69 more South Koreans as having been abducted by the North during the 1950-53 Korean War. This brings the total number officially recognized as abductees to 3,375; other estimates run as high as 83,000.

: The leading Seoul daily JoongAng Ilbo calls on the North to allow more reunions of separated families, adding also that “Our government needs to be more flexible.”

: The first batch of DPRK participants in the Asian Games flies directly from Pyongyang on their national airline Air Koryo to Incheon International Airport (IIA). This 94-strong group includes Vice Sports Minister Jang Su Myong. The rest of the North’s 273-strong contingent arrives over the next few days, including Sports Minister Kim Yong Hun on Sept. 16.

: MOU confirms a decision by the Asiad organizers to remove flags of all 45 competing nations from public streets, after right-wing groups threaten violence against the DPRK flag – whose display is illegal under the ROK’s National Security Law. A day later it adds that Southern spectators will not be allowed to fly the Northern flag in stadiums, either.

: MOU confirms that North Korea sent back via Panmunjom a South Korean man aged 52 who had illegally entered the DPRK via a third country, despite his plea to stay in the North and have his family join him.

: The first group of North Korean participants in the Asian Games flies directly from Pyongyang aboard the DPRK national airline Air Koryo, landing at Incheon International Airport (IIA). This 94-strong group includes Vice Sports Minister Jang Su Myong and 38 soccer players (20 male, 18 female); the soccer tournament begins ahead of the Asiad’s official opening on Sept. 19. The rest of the North’s 273-strong contingent will come in four further batches, including Sports Minister Kim Yong Hun: scheduled to arrive Sept. 14, he will be the most senior Northern official to visit the South since 2009.

: MOU confirms a decision by the Asiad organizers to remove flags of all 45 competing nations from public streets, after rightwing groups threaten violence against the DPRK flag – whose display is illegal under the ROK’s National Security Law. A day later it adds that Southern spectators will not be allowed to fly the Northern flag in stadiums, either.

: In a speech on the 66th anniversary of the DPRK’s founding, Premier Pak Pong Ju declares: “We will do our best to improve North-South relations.” He does not elaborate.

: MOU and two other ROK ministries, Justice (MOJ) and Security and Public Administration (MOSPA), jointly launch an integrated database on legal issues likely to arise during and after Korea’s reunification. It can be found at www.unilaw.go.kr. (Korean only)

: North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un, as often, attends a concert by the Moranbong Band, a modish all-female combo he created. Thereafter Kim is not seen in public for over a month, prompting feverish speculation abroad as to his whereabouts and fate.

: MOU and two other ROK Ministries, Justice (MOJ) and Security and Public Administration (MOSPA), jointly launch an integrated database on legal issues likely to arise during and after Korea’s reunification. It can be found at www.unilaw.go.kr. (Korean only)

: An MOU spokesman says the South will share the cost of the North’s taking part in the 17th Asian Games (Asiad) soon to be held in Incheon, ROK, and that the gap between the two sides on who should pay for what is “not wide.” No figures are given. He reiterates that the North is welcome to bring cheerleaders.

: An MOU spokesman says the South will share the cost of the North’s taking part in the Asian Games, and that the gap between the two sides on who pays what is “not wide.” No figures are given. He reiterates that the North is welcome to bring cheerleaders.

: Lim Byeong-cheol, spokesman of South Korea’s Unification Ministry (MOU), reiterates that “there is no change in the government’s basic position with regard to the May 24th Measures”; meaning sanctions will remain unless North Korea formally apologizes for sinking the corvette Cheonan in 2010. He hopes nonetheless that the North will agree to a fresh round of family reunions “before it gets too cold” this winter.

: MOU spokesman Lim Byeong-cheol reiterates that “there is no change in the government’s basic position with regard to the May 24th Measures”, meaning sanctions will remain unless North Korea formally apologizes for sinking the Cheonan in 2010. He hopes nonetheless that the North will agree to family reunions “before it gets too cold.”

: North Korea’s Olympic Committee repeats its claim that the South is being disingenuous on the cheerleader issue.

: Daum, a leading South Korean web portal, publishes high-resolution views and maps of almost all North Korea except areas near the DMZ. For security reasons the very latest data available to the ROK government is not used. Daum’s product is described as far more comprehensive in its coverage than Google Maps, though the latter is more up to date.

: MOU spokesman Lim Byeong-cheol says, “It’s very regrettable that North Korea unilaterally announced plans not to send cheerleaders [to the Incheon Asian Games], making a distorted claim that we do not want their participation.”

: JoongAng Ilbo reports a survey of 116,000 school pupils. 1 in 4 view North Korea as a foe, and 1 in 5 see unification as unnecessary (53.5 percent disagree).

: ROK Supreme Court upholds an appeal court ruling acquitting Park Jong-geun, 26, of violating the NSL by retweeting North Korean materials; accepting his defense that his purpose had been to ridicule the DPRK. His original trial in Suwon in 2012 had found him guilty and imposed a 10-month jail term, suspended for two years.

: Son Kwang Ho, vice-chairman of the DPRK National Olympic Committee, tells the North’s Korean Central Television (KCTV) that no cheerleading squad will be sent to the Incheon Asiad after all. Blaming the South for calling the cheerleaders subversives and taking issue with the group’s size and cost, he says Seoul was informed of this decision last week. MOU belatedly confirms that the North did indeed convey that message.

: Yoo Ki-june, an influential lawmaker of the South’s ruling Saenuri Party who chairs the ROK National Assembly’s foreign affairs committee, urges the lifting of sanctions against North Korea and the resumption of tourism to the North’s Mount Kumgang resort “for reduction of tension and dialogue between the two Koreas.”

: The South sends a letter to the North regarding its Asiad participation. This is not published, but reportedly its contents include permission for the DPRK team to arrive by direct flight from Pyongyang, and offers of administrative and other support.

: The Korean Broadcasters Association (KBA), whose council comprises the ROK’s three major broadcasters (KBS, MBC and SBS), says it will offer North Korea rights to broadcast the Asian Games for free “in accordance with humanitarianism and sports spirit.”

: JoongAng Ilbo cites MOU as saying that currently less than 3 percent of KIC output is exported beyond the peninsula. In 2010 the proportion was 11.3 percent.

: MOU says it will start building a genetic database of families separated by the Korean War. It will also start filming 10-minute family messages to be sent to relatives in the North. Pyongyang is not known to have agreed to such messages.

: David Cohen, who as US Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence oversees sanctions against North Korea, visits Seoul for consultations.

: Rodong Sinmun thunders: “We have already declared solemnly that all the aggressor forces to be involved in the UFG, military bases in south Korea and overseas, White House, Pentagon, Chongwadae and other bases of aggression and provocation would become the targets of the strategic and tactical rockets and other high-performance ultra-modern ultra-precision fire strike means of the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK.”

: Ryang Song Ho, dean of Pyongyang College of Physical Education, flies into Incheon International Airport heading an eight-strong DPRK delegation, which takes part in the Asiad group draw next day. Speaking at a conference in Incheon, Ryang praises Kim Jong Un for building “thousands of multifunctional sports facilities and sports parks” and other “facilities which embody the civilisation of the new era” like the new Masikryong ski resort.

: Presenting MOU’s 2014 policy plan to the National Assembly’s diplomatic affairs committee, ROK Unification Minister Ryoo reiterates that “it is difficult to imagine the government unilaterally lifting” sanctions against North Korea. “If (Pyongyang) needs the May 24 sanctions to be removed, it should come to the negotiating table and discuss it there.” He also calls on the North to accept the South’s offer of high-level talks.

: Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG), the annual US-ROK military exercise, begins. 50,000 ROK and 30,000 US forces participate, plus troops from 10 other nations. North Korea as usual denounces this as an invasion plan and threatens pre-emptive strikes.

: Kim Jong Un sends a wreath and telegram on the fourth anniversary of the death of Kim Dae-jung. This is delivered to Kim’s son in Kaesong by Kim Yang Gon, who as head of the United Front Department of the WPK is Pyongyang’s top point man on the South.

: In a rare privilege, both Koreas allow 32 ethnic Koreans from countries of the former Soviet Union to drive their convoy of five SUVs across the DMZ from North to South. The 10,000 mile journey to mark 150 years of Korean emigration to Russia began in Moscow on July 7; they entered the DPRK via Rajin on Aug. 8. Their odyssey ends with participation in a Mass for peace and reconciliation in Seoul, celebrated by Pope Francis. Vasily Cho, the group’s leader, says they hope that this venture will help improve inter-Korean relations.

: In her Liberation Day  speech, ROK President Park offers the North a range of cooperative projects. Some reprise offers made in her Dresden Declaration in March.

: In an unscripted comment, Pope Francis during a week-long visit to South Korea tells a questioner in Seoul: “Think of your brothers in the North. They speak the same language as you, and when in a family the same language is spoken, there is a human hope.”

: In a statement ahead of Liberation Day (from Japan in 1945: a holiday in both Koreas), the North’s CPRK urges the South to end hostile acts, terminate US “interference,” and “take practical steps to implement the already agreed north-south agreements.”

: Incheon Asiad organisers say the DPRK has duly submitted the names of 150 athletes in 14 sports plus 202 coaches, referees, and staff, confirming its participation despite July’s row and no subsequent meetings with the South. There is no mention of cheerleaders.

: A North Korean father and son swim to the South’s Gyodong Island in the West/Yellow Sea, just south of the NLL and 1.5 miles from the DPRK coast. Though rare, this is the third successive year that defectors have succeeded in escaping by swimming.

: South Korea proposes high-level talks at Panmunjom on Aug. 19. Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae says: “We want to discuss family reunions and other pending inter-Korean issues in a comprehensive manner.” He adds that the North may raise any agenda it wishes, including the South’s “May 24” sanctions imposed in 2010. No reply is received by Aug. 19, or indeed thereafter.

: The ROK PCUP holds its first meeting. Critics complain that it only discusses “hot air” abstract topics, not immediate issues such as whether to ease sanctions.

: Noting that “Marshal Kim Jong Un personally guided a match for examining the men’s football of the National Sports Team to take part in the 17th Asian Games,” CPRK urges South Korea not to miss this opportunity to improve North-South relations.”

: A 38-strong team from the three companies – KoRail, Posco and Hyundai Merchant Marine – plus ROK government officials returns from a week-long site visit, their second, to the DPRK’s Rajin port. They report that Pyongyang is “pleased” that this consortium may invest in Rajin by buying half of Russian Railways’ 70 percent stake in a joint venture with North Korea to modernize rail and port facilities.

: North and South hold talks at Panmunjom on details of DPRK participation in the Asiad. Next day KCNA accuses Seoul of “provocations” on various issues, including cheerleaders, and threatens to “fundamentally reexamine its participation in the games.”

: South Korea formally launches its new Presidential Committee for Unification Preparation (PCUP). Its 50 members comprise 30 private sector experts, two lawmakers, 11 government officials and six heads of state research institutes. President Park will chair it.

: North Korea says that it will send cheerleaders as well as athletes to the Incheon Asiad, to “melt the frozen North-South relations with the heat of national reconciliation.”

: KCNA quotes the General Association of Koreans in China as marking the anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 by denouncing “the Park Geun Hye group of traitors [as] the sycophant and quisling without an equal in the world”.

: North Korea’s CPRK denounces UN-OHCHR’s plan to open an office in Seoul monitoring North Korean human rights as “a hideous politically-motivated provocation” and “a serious hostile act.” CPRK warns: “We will strongly react against it. Needless to say, the ‘office’ and its staff are not excepted from being targets of this action.” Earlier, on June 4, Rodong Sinmun accused the South of allowing this office in order to “worsen confrontation between the brother countries and achieve its ambition of forcible reunification.”

: MOU suggests that Hwang Pyong So (see May 1) may now be a vice-chairman of the WPK’s powerful Central Military Commission (CMC). It does not cite its evidence.

: USFK Commander Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti tells a Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA, MND’s think-tank) forum that the US is considering deploying a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense (MD) battery in South Korea so as to counter the North’s growing missile threats, and that he has personally recommended this.

: South Korea returns a Northern fisherman via Panmunjom, but not his two colleagues who asked to remain in the South. Pyongyang had demanded all three back. Their boat was found adrift with engine trouble near Ulleung-do in the East Sea three days earlier.

: President Park appoints Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin as her national security adviser, replacing Kim Jang-soo who resigned May 22. Kim KJ’s successor at MND is ex-JCS Chairman Han Min-koo. Pyongyang media denounce Kim as a “special-class criminal … hooligan … diehard pro-US lackey … worst traitor … special-class stooge of the US … wicked confrontation maniac” and more.

: Yonhap quotes “military sources” as saying that North Korea has been issuing fishing rights to Chinese vessels in the West Sea which include waters that are actually South Korea’s. China has been notified, and warned not to cross the Northern Limit Line (NLL).

: In Seoul, President Park meets and thanks Justice Michael Kirby, the retired Australian judge who chaired the UN inquiry on DPRK human rights abuses.

: South Korea’s Foreign Ministry (MOFA) says it has agreed to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) opening a field office in South Korea to monitor human rights abuses in North Korea.

: A day after allocating 632 million won (US$619,000) for research on the idea of a peace park in the DMZ, MOU says it will ask researchers to produce reports on how to accomplish this project – even though North Korea has rejected it.

: Rodong Sinmun avers that “Nothing will be resolved in inter-Korean relations as long as Park [Geun-hye] remains [in power],” and demands an end to her rule.

: KCNA names Kim Yong Hun as minister of physical culture and sports in place of Ri Jong Mu, who has served since 2012. Kim is close to leader Kim Jong Un.

: KCNA quotes a KPA call for the US to stop “hostile acts seriously rattling the nerves of the other side.” This refers to a steel tower erected at Panmunjom for surveillance purposes. USFK retorts that it had notified the North, which already has its own similar tower.

: Yonhap headlines a meeting in Seoul of the ROK and PRC foreign ministers as “S. Korea, China agree to deter N. Korea’s nuke ambitions.” The actual report has China’s Wang Yi calling for resumption of the Six-Party Talks.

: KCNA quotes the ‘Federation of Korean Economic Workers in China’ on Park Geun-hye: “Such prostitute, special-class traitor has to be eliminated at an early date … it is not possible to expect anything as long as the venomous serpent remains in Chongwadae.”

: Yonhap quotes ‘ROK officials’ as saying that representatives of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea and Archdiocese of Seoul met members of the DPRK Catholic Church in Shenyang, China, on May 18-19, inviting them to attend a mass to be celebrated by Pope Francis in Seoul in August. In the event no Northern Catholics come South for this.

: KCNA reports that the DPRK Olympic Committee has officially informed the Olympic Council of Asia that North Korea will participate in the 17th Asian Games (Asiad) in Incheon, ROK between Sept. 19 and Oct. 4. South Korea welcomes the news.

: Talking to reporters in Seoul after her first visit to North Korea on May 19-21, Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the UN World Food Program, says WFP’s nutrition program for DPRK children and pregnant women stands at a “very crucial juncture.” WFP aid to North Korea fell from $86.94 million in 2012 to $26.56 million in 2013.

: South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) say North Korea fired two artillery rounds toward an ROK warship in the West (Yellow) Sea, hence the South returned fire. The North denies this. Each side threatens “merciless punishment” if the other provokes it.

: Citing currently negative inter-Korean relations, Seoul rejects Pyongyang’s proposal that they jointly mark the anniversary of the first North-South summit in June.

: At a conference in Shanghai, ROK Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae warns the DPRK not to conduct a fresh unclear test, but promises support should it opt to disarm.

: ROK’s Cardinal Andres Yeom Soo-jung visits the joint venture Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC): the first ever visit to North Korea by a Roman Catholic cardinal.

: KCNA report, headlined “KPA Will Wipe out Park Geun Hye-led Military Hooligans to Last One: Command of Southwestern Front of KPA,” accuses the ROK Navy of “firing at random at the warships of the Korean People’s Army which were on regular guard duty in the southwestern waters of the DPRK side and peaceable Chinese fishing boats.”

: DPRK’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) denounces ROK President Park Geun-hye’s apology for April’s Sewol ferry disaster. CPRK calls the accident “an unprecedented deliberate murder and a massacre perpetrated by … the Park group.”

: South Korea’s Unification Ministry (MOU) reveals that in March it fined a businessman 1 million won ($977) for an unauthorized meeting with North Koreans in China last December. They discussed possible Southern participation in a project to build a high-speed railway and parallel highway the length of the DPRK, from Sinuiju to Kaesong.

: MND spokesman Kim Min-seok tells a press briefing on Seoul: “The North is an abnormal state and should vanish as soon as possible.” The National Defence Commission (NDC), the DPRK’s topmost executive organ, ripostes next day: “All [our] service personnel and people … are strongly calling for wiping the Park group out of this land.”

: South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin says the North has made all its preparations for a fourth nuclear test, to be carried out “whenever it makes a decision.” In the event no such test takes place during the ensuing four months.

: WPK daily paper Rodong Sinmun condemns Park Geun-hye’s “Doctrine of Gaining Great Opportunity of Unification” (presumably this is bonanza, daebak) as a “strange watchword … fully reflect[ing] the base and ugly nature of philistinism [and] mammonism.”

: ROK Defense Ministry (MND) says that after restoring the geographical positioning system (GPS) coordinates stored in the three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) found near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in March and April, it now has the “smoking gun” that proves that they were all launched from the DPRK.

: Poll taken late last year, but only published now, finds almost half (44.3 percent) of South Koreans unwilling to pay a cent toward unification – 31.9 percent would fork out $50 a year, and 11.7 percent up to $100. Only 1.2 percent would contribute over $1,000.

: Chairing a UN Security Council debate on weapons of mass destruction, ROK Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Paik Ji-ah cuts off the microphone of DPRK Deputy Ambassador Ri Tong Il after he ignores two warnings and extends his allotted four minutes to 10.

:  KCNA commentary on April 16 Sewol ferry disaster, in which 304 died, is headlined, “Park Geun Hye Is Wholly to Blame for Sinking of Ferry.” It calls her “a depraved old lady who has neither human ethics nor conscience and the worst traitor and sycophant.”

: KCNA issues a commentary headlined: “Park Geun Hye Is Wholly to Blame for Sinking of Ferry.” Inter alia this calls her “a depraved old lady who has neither human ethics nor conscience and the worst traitor and sycophant.”

: Rodong Sinmun thunders: “The [South Korean] puppet authorities’ moves to exchange military information with Japan are an unpardonable treacherous crime stunning the world in their danger, point of time and method.” Similarly, on May 7 a KCNA commentary, as its own headline puts it, “Assails [the] Criminal Nexus Among S. Korea, U.S., Japan.”

: KCNA again insults ROK President Park Geun-hye: “All Koreans are spitting on her as she is resorting to whorish and disgusting political prostitution only after leaving her soul or chastity violated at such old age of over 60.” It also refers to “her American master reminiscent of a wicked black monkey”. (Even more blatant and disgusting racism against President Obama appears at length in another KCNA article, published in Korean only.)

: KCNA again insults President Park: “All Koreans are spitting on her as she is resorting to whorish and disgusting political prostitution only after leaving her soul or chastity violated at such old age of over 60.” It also refers to “her American master reminiscent of a wicked black monkey”. (Even more blatant and disgusting racism against President Obama appears at length in another KCNA article, published in Korean only.)

: Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) confirms what Seoul had already surmised. Choe Ryong Hae has been replaced in the key post of political director of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) political director by Vice Marshal Hwang Pyong So. Both men in fact had civilian backgrounds and careers in the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK); Hwang only donned the uniform in 2011.

: Rodong Sinmun warns the South that to seek unification without concessions in its political system would lead to war, which would “reduce South Korea to ashes and return it to the “stone age.”

: The KPA stages a live-fire drill in the West Sea. Again it pre-notifies South Korea, which does not fire back as none of the North’s 50-odd shells fall south of the NLL.

: KoRail’s head Choi Yeon-hye returns from the OSJD meeting in Pyongyang. No details or outcomes of her week-long sojourn in North Korea have yet been disclosed.

: DPRK media use unprecedentedly abusive language against President Park, calling her a “prostitute” and “comfort woman.”  On April 28 MOU condemns the North’s “vulgar expletives” as immoral.

: Hours before President Obama arrives in Seoul, two North Korean patrol boats intrude a mile south of the NLL. They retreat after verbal warnings and warning shots. The ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) says the intruders may have been monitoring numerous DPRK and Chinese fishing boats in these waters, as it is the peak crab season.

: Seoul allows the charity Medical Aid for Children to ship cold remedies and other medications worth 75 million won ($227,000) to a children’s hospital in Pyongyang. This brings total aid by ROK NGOs so far this year to 2 billion won.

: A week after the Sewol ferry tragedy, North Korea finally offers condolences in a telephone message from its Red Cross chief Kang Su Rin to his Southern counterpart Yoo Jung-keun. This is outweighed by other Northern media reports which, like most in the South too, view this disaster as showing up a range of flaws in South Korean procedures or society.

: Choi Yeon-hye, CEO of state-owned Korea Railroad Corp (KoRail), leaves for a meeting in Pyongyang of the Organization for Cooperation between Railways (OSJD). OSJD mostly covers ex-communist countries, but the ROK gained associate membership in March. Choi tells reporters in Beijing en route that she will seek full membership. The same day she and her party board a Pyongyang-bound train in Beijing. This is thought to be the first time that senior ROK officials have entered the DPRK by rail.

: The US-ROK Foal Eagle combat field training joint exercise concludes.

: State-run Export-Import Bank of Korea (Eximbank), which operates the South’s inter-Korean cooperation fund, announces a new research center to study, and hopefully revive, North-South economic cooperation.

: MOU says a task force has inspected three sites near the border in preparing for President Park’s vaunted “peace park” inside the DMZ. 40.2 billion won ($38.4 million) is budgeted for this year.

: Seoul dismisses the North’s call for a joint UAV probe, calling it a “mean psychological tactic.” China’s Xinhua is among those carrying that quote. The Blue House  adds: “In no case would a suspect be allowed to investigate evidence of his own crime.”

: A propos detained missionary Kim Jong-uk, MOU says: “It is regrettable for the North not to meet our demand [to] grant him access to an attorney and his family, and release and repatriate him.” (See also Feb. 27.)

: DPRK NDC denies that drones found in ROK are from the North, calling this “a replica of the Cheonan warship sinking case.” NDC offers to send a joint investigation team.

: North’s NDC calls Park Geun-hye’s Dresden Declaration “a nonsensical statement made by an anti-reunification element who deceived the public with hypocrisy and deception as she offered no solution” and “irrelevant and indifferent to the improvement and development of inter-Korean relations.” Despite this, MOU says on April 14 that the South will push ahead with this plan, including “internal preparations.”

: ROK Unification Minister Ryoo tells the National Assembly that the South “is willing to lift” sanctions on the North if the latter takes some action. He does not say what.

: KCNA reports an outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza (AI, bird flu) in Pyongyang since March 21. Though tens of thousands of poultry “have either fallen dead or been culled … the disease shows … continues to spread.” South Korea has also had its first AI since 2011, with 10 million chickens culled.

: North’s SPA meets as scheduled, for a single day as usual. There are no developments directly bearing on or affecting ties with South Korea.

: MOU reports that 360 Northern defectors reached South Korea in the first quarter of 2014, a similar figure to the same period in 2012 and 2013. A total of 1,516 came in 2013, slightly up from 1,502 in 2012. The cumulative total of defectors is now 26,124.

: MOFA says Seoul will “positively consider” hosting a UN office on North Korea’s human rights violations, if formally asked. MOFA denies local media reports that it has rejected any such idea as inimical to inter-Korean relations.

: Hwang Joon-kook, named on April 3 as new ROK envoy to the Six-Party Talks, meets his US and Japanese counterparts in Washington to discuss how to handle the DPRK.

: Despite President Park’s call in her Dresden speech for inter-Korean economic cooperation, Seoul reaffirms its ban on investment and trade with Pyongyang.

: MND reports a third mystery drone, up a mountain on the east coast. A local resident found it last October but only reported it now. Discarding the Canon camera, which was wet, he removed the memory chip, erased it and reused it. A new order that all unmanned aircraft of whatever size must be registered provokes protests from model plane hobbyists.

: At Panmunjom South Korea hands over two bodies and three Northern sailors, rescued when a DPRK-crewed Mongolian-flagged cargo ship sank off Yeosu on the ROK’s southern coast on April 4. The ship was carrying 6,500 tons of steel from Chongjin to China. A further body is handed over on April 14 after the North confirms the man’s identity.

: MND announces the successful test of a new ballistic missile with a range of 310 miles (thus able to strike most of North Korea) and a 1-ton payload on March 23. On April 7 the North’s Academy of National Defense Science calls this a “grave provocation.”

: MOU says that on April 5, Arbor Day, 70 ROK officials will plant some 7,000 retusa fringe trees around the Kaesong IC.

: Seoul media report that a second unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) crash-landed on Baengnyong Island in the West/Yellow Sea on March 31. The first, found near Paju north of Seoul near the DMZ on March 24, had flown over and photographed the Blue House (the presidential residence and office). Both drones are suspected to have come from North Korea. ROK media criticize the authorities for lack of vigilance in face of this new security threat.

: Four hours after sending a rare fax notifying the ROK’s Second Navy Fleet Command (on the west coast) of an upcoming exercise affecting border waters, KPA artillery fire some 500 shells in seven areas near the), of which 100 fall south of the line. The South responds with a 300-shell howitzer barrage, all of which land in Northern waters. MND calls the North’s shelling a premeditated provocation.

: A ninth round of family reunions is held at Mt. Kumgang.

: In a major speech at Dresden Germany, President Park offers a range of proposals to North Korea including aid, people exchanges and joint economic projects. The North angrily rejects this outright, questioning Park’s motives and abusing her personally.

: Yonhap reports that some 30 members of women’s groups in both Koreas met in Shenyang, China to discuss the ‘comfort women’ issue. The last such joint meeting was held in Seoul in 2007.

: The largest ever Ssangyong – the third US-ROK military exercise this year, and the peninsula’s biggest joint amphibious landing drill – begins. It concludes April 5.

: ROK Navy arrests three DPRK fishermen whose boat had crossed the Northern Limit Line (NLL) near Baenghyeong Island despite warning shots. It releases them six hours later. Next day the trio holds a televised press conference, claiming that they were “assaulted with iron bats and pressured to defect to the South.”

: On fourth anniversary of the sinking of the ROKN corvette Cheonan, North Korea test-fires two medium-range Rodong ballistic missiles. They fly some 650 km over the East Sea. Seoul condemns this as a provocative violation of UNSC resolutions.

: North’s inaptly named Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) threatens “merciless sledgehammer blows” on the South over anti-regime leaflets sent into the North by balloon. The South’s Defense Ministry (MND) clarifies that this as ever was a private action by activists, and insists that the government has not floated leaflets since the two Koreas agreed in 2004 to end cross-border propaganda activities.

: South Korea intensifies quarantine efforts in border provinces after the North belatedly reports a second FMD outbreak at a pig farm, two months after the event.

: MOU says the South’s state-owned Export-Import Bank has asked North Korea to pay $8.6 million: the first repayment on an $80 million loan made in 2007 for raw materials to produce clothing, footwear, and soap. This fell due on March 24. Pyongyang has also never repaid loans for past food aid, nor replied to Seoul’s messages on the subject.

: At Paju near the DMZ, Northern defectors and conservative activists launch 20 balloons carrying 600,000 leaflets into North Korea.

: MOU White Paper says that Seoul “plans to make consistent efforts to ensure that the tours to Mount Kumgang will be resumed by dispelling public concerns.”

: MOU says Seoul will not lift the May 24 [2010] measures, which ban trade with and investment in North Korea except the KIC in reprisal for the sinking of the Cheonan, unless Pyongyang “takes responsible measures” such as admitting responsibility.

: Military source tells Yonhap that North Korea is enhancing its infiltration capabilities by developing a new high-speed, wave piercing Very Slender Vessel (VSV) that can move special forces at over 100 kmph. This is seen as a threat to front-line islands.

: ROK Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae confirms Seoul’s official view that “the timing isn’t ripe to send fertilizer to the North.” He adds that economic cooperation with Pyongyang will be limited unless the North’s nuclear issue is first addressed.

: An unnamed ROK diplomat says Seoul will seek China’s support for a UN resolution on DPRK human rights violations. On March 19 President Park urges Beijing not to veto the resolution.

: MOU spokesman Kim Eui-do says anyone thinking of sending fertilizer to North Korea should consult the authorities. He confirms that government has no such plans. During the “Sunshine era” (1999-2007) Seoul sent 2.55 million tons of fertilizer to Pyongyang.

: ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff report that the KPA fired 25 short-range rockets in a day into the East Sea: its largest volley yet of several recently (see Feb. 21).

: Yonhap cites an unspecified official as saying North Korea is demanding a 10 percent hike in basic pay for its 53,000 workers at Kaesong. The usual annual raise is 5 percent. He adds that this is unacceptable, since the KIC was shut for five months in 2013. On March 21 MOU says that KIC firms will hold wage talks in July, the normal time for this.

: The South’s Hyundai Research Institute (HRI) claims that North Korean per capita income rose 4.8 per cent last year, thanks to better harvests and increased facilities investment. At an estimated $834, the North’s figure is still dwarfed by the South’s $23,838.

: Blue House Senior Secretary Ju Chul-ki says President Park will personally chair her proposed unification preparatory committee, which will meet quarterly. Its 50-odd members will be drawn from government, civilian experts, and the private sector.

: DPRK Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) demands an apology for remarks on March 11 by the head of a think-tank affiliated to the ROK’s National Intelligence Service (NIS). Yoo Seong-ok reportedly told lawmakers that Kim Jong Un is instituting a reign of terror, described the Northern leader as “[stepping] harder on the gas pedal of a car with no brakes,” and suggested that a coup, uprising and collapse were all possible.

: A joint panel on dispute arbitration at the Kaesong complex holds its first meeting. MOU calls this a positive step, though it is unclear what exactly it accomplished.

: The (South) Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation (KCRC), a coalition of NGOs, abruptly cancels the grand launch ceremony for its planned campaign to send a million 20-kg bags of fertilizer to North Korea. Official pressure is suspected.

: North Korea warns that persistent Southern “slander” – by ministers, media, and defectors (“human scum”) who send leaflets by balloon – will jeopardize future relations. Seoul says the government is not being slanderous, and it cannot control others’ free speech.

: Hyundai Research Institute (HRI), think-tank of the eponymous business group, claims that if the two Koreas reunite within the next year, by 2050 Korea will have the eighth largest economy in the world with per capita income larger than Japan’s, thanks to new growth engines and an enlarged domestic market.

: North Korea holds its parliamentary election. On March 11, the Central Election Committee claims, as usual, that 99.97 percent of registered electors have voted (i.e. everyone except those unable to because they are overseas or out at sea); and that fully 100 percent have cast their ballot for the single approved candidate in each of 687 constituencies.

: MOU reports that by end-2013 production at the Kaesong complex had almost recovered to pre-shutdown levels. Output in Dec. 2013 was worth $35.29 million, compared to $36.42 million a year earlier. [Yonhap actually says 352.9 and 364.2 million, but this is an obvious decimal point error.] Inter-Korean trade this January reached $168.87 million, 94 percent of Jan. 2013’s figure. DPRK employees at end-2013 numbered 52,000, compared to 53,000 in March. All 123 ROK firms except one are working normally.

: MOU spokesman Kim Eui-do says: “We are not considering aid [to North Korea], either through the government or international organizations.”

: MOU clarifies that any resumption of regular tourism to Mount Kumgang would not be subject to UNSC sanctions which ban couriering bulk cash into North Korea. However on March 10 it seemingly reverses its view.

: US-ROK Key Resolve command post exercise concludes.

: At a passing-out parade for new military graduates at the Gyeryongdae tri-services headquarters south of Seoul, President Park reiterates that “the decisive obstacle to economic cooperation between the South and the North is North Korea’s nuclear program.”

: South Korea’s Red Cross proposes talks on March 12 about holding regular family reunions. Next day the North rejects this, saying the atmosphere is not right.

: ROK Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae says the DPRK’s Rason zone may be open to South Korean goods by next year “if things go smoothly.” He calls this “a small but meaningful outcome.” Ryoo adds that if North-South relations improve, humanitarian aid is also possible: “However, we are not in that stage yet.”

: President Park tells her government to start talks with North Korea on letting separated families exchange letters and hold video reunions. She also calls for reunions for at least 6,000 such persons annually, since “many families do not have time to wait any longer.”

: MND calls North Korea’s firing of four Scud missiles (its first Scud test since 2009) into the East Sea the previous day “a kind of provocation.” For their part, Pyongyang media proclaim daily that joint US-ROK war games are a provocation.

: Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se says South Korea will step up efforts to gain the international community’s cooperation in its push to reunify Korea, and predicts that “the coming four years will mark a watershed in building peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

: Kim Jong-uk, a South Korean missionary arrested in the North on Oct. 8, tells a press conference in Pyongyang he was sent by the National Intelligence Service (NIS) to create a dissident underground church network that would eventually topple the Kim regime, and asks for mercy. The NIS denies any knowledge of him. The same day Seoul calls for his release, but the North refuses. (See also April 15, below.)

: Radio Free Asia reports that on Feb. 24 North Korea asked the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for help in containing its FMD outbreak. Pyongyang remains silent, however, on Seoul’s swift offer of assistance in that area.

: MND says that last night a KPA patrol boat crossed the Northern Limit Line (NLL, the de facto west coast sea border) west of Baengnyong Island. It stayed for three hours in Southern waters, only returning North after ten warnings from ROK military broadcasts.

: On the first anniversary of her inauguration, President Park says she will set up a “preparatory committee for unification” as part of a wider economic revitalization plan.

: At a rare lunch with ROK journalists covering the family reunions, DPRK officials and reporters say the North will compete in all events at this year’s Asian Games, to be held in the South’s Incheon city in September.

: MOU says Seoul has offered to help Pyongyang contain its FMD outbreak, also proposing wider talks on humanitarian aid. North Korea makes no reply, now or later.

: The annual US-ROK Key Resolve and Foal Eagle drills kick off as scheduled.

: Seoul’s Korea International Trade Association (KITA) says that last year North-South trade fell by 42 per cent from $1.98 to $1.15 billion, its lowest level for 8 years, due to the 5 month closure of the KI, which is now the only inter-Korean trade that Seoul permits. China-DPRK trade by contrast rose 10.4 percent to a record $6.54 billion.

: KCNA belatedly confirms an FMD outbreak, the DPRK’s first since 2011, on a pig farm near Pyongyang. Since this began on Jan. 8 some 3,260 pigs have been “butchered, causing lots of economic damage.” However, “the disease continues spreading due to the shortages of FMD vaccines, diagnostic means and disinfection medicines.”

: Meeting China’s Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin, who unusually has just come directly to Seoul after four days in Pyongyang, ROK Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se calls on Beijing to persuade the DPRK to take concrete steps toward denuclearization.

: North Korea fires four ballistic missiles with an approximate range of 150 km. Another four Scuds are fired on Feb. 27, this time with a 220 km range. Two 50-km rockets follow on March 3, and seven more of unknown range on March 4.

: South Korea’s Agriculture Ministry (MAFRA) says the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) informed it of an ongoing outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in North Korea. OIE itself was only just notified by Pyongyang, over a month after the event.

: Blue House announces that its preferred English translation for daebak is now “bonanza” rather than “jackpot.” Secretary of State Kerry is credited with suggesting this.

: Back from Rajin (see Feb. 9), three ROK companies strike a cautious note. A spokesman stresses that their Feb. 11-13 site visit was merely “a visual inspection” and that “the consortium can conduct a detailed business feasibility study only after more inspections.”

: Reunions of separated families, the first such since 2010, are held without a hitch at Mount Kumgang after much clearing of heavy snow.

: Eighty-two elderly South Koreans and 56 relatives gather at Sokcho for medical checks and briefings ahead of one-off reunions with their long-lost Northern kin.

: MOU clarifies that Seoul’s backing for the COI does not breach the Koreas’ agreement not to slander each other, since human rights are about universal values.

: MOFA launches the Korean Peninsula Club, a consultative body comprising the 21 foreign diplomatic missions in Seoul which are also accredited to the DPRK. It is also contemplating a second body for the 24 states that have embassies in both Korean capitals.

: The UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) publishes its report on DPRK human rights violations. The ROK Foreign Ministry (MOFA) hails the COI’s “proactive efforts” as raising the global community’s awareness of this grave situation. The DPRK for its part “categorically and totally rejects” the report, labelling the COI a “marionette” of the US.

: Lee Seok-ki, a lawmaker of the South’s far-left Unified Progressive Party (UPP), is jailed for 12 years for plotting a campaign of pro-North sabotage in the event of a crisis on the peninsula. Several associates are also sentenced. The UPP, itself facing a possible ban as an anti-state body, calls this “a medieval witch-hunt.”

: Resumed high-level talks reach a 3-point accord: to end slander, promote trust and meet again. Family reunions are confirmed, though Seoul gives no ground on war games.

: First high-level North-South talks for seven years are held at Panmunjom. Despite starting at 10:00 and continuing through midnight, no progress is made.

: Pyongyang calls for the start of military exercises to be postponed until after family reunions. Seoul again rejects any such linkage.

: The two Koreas exchange delegation lists for Feb. 12 high-level talks. The South’s team is led not by Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae but Kim Kyou-hyun, the newly appointed secretary general of the ROK’s revamped National Security Council (NSC). The North’s chief delegate is Won Tong Yon, vice director of the WPK United Front Department and a veteran negotiator with the South since the 1990s. No agenda is tabled in advance.

: ROK Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae tells the National Assembly that the Rajin rail project is allowed as a “special case.” Seoul’s ban on investment and trade with the North, except at the Kaesong IC, will continue until Pyongyang takes meaningful steps and shows remorse for sinking the Cheonan in 2010 (for which the DPRK denies responsibility).

: MOU announces that an 18-strong team from three firms – steelmaker Posco, shipper Hyundai Merchant Marine and state-owned KoRail – will inspect the DPRK’s Rajin port on Feb. 11-13. No ROK officials will accompany them. Russian Railways has invited this consortium to invest in its cross-border rail and port development JV with North Korea.

: North Korea unexpectedly and confidentially proposes open-ended high-level talks. The South swiftly agrees to meet on Feb. 12. All this is only announced on Feb. 11.

: The two Koreas agree that the KIC will at last get internet access, by June. This will start with a connected business center. Later, all 100-odd factories will have the service.

: A 64-strong ROK team of Red Cross and Hyundai Asan workers drives across the eastern border to Mount Kumgang, where they will check the condition of facilities for family reunions. The Hyundai-built resort has been largely mothballed since 2008.

: President Park urges North Korea not to “leave a large wound in the hearts of the separated families again” by cancelling family reunions, which she hopes will help “move toward a new Korean Peninsula of peace and joint development.”

: A day after agreeing to family reunions, Pyongyang threatens to cancel them. In a long screed which also lambastes ROK media over Kim Jong Un’s shoes, the NDC says “war exercises and racket for confrontation are incompatible with dialogue and reconciliation.” Seoul rejects this, and reconfirms that the annual joint US-ROK military drills will go ahead.

: In its annual policy report MOU says it will cooperate with North Korea on the Rajin-Khasan railway, and to try to build a peace park in the DMZ by 2016. President Park adds that “this year’s policy deals more with setting the groundwork framework for internal stability and setting straight various abnormal practices in the North-South relationship.” Also “we need a thorough defense posture to deal with any provocation by North Korea.”

: ROK media scold Kim Jong Un and his entourage for not taking off their shoes on a visit to a Pyongyang nursery, as pictured in Feb. 4 Rodong Sinmun. Traditionally in Korea it is a serious breach of etiquette and gross bad manners to wear outdoor shoes indoors.

: Red Cross talks at Panmunjom agree to hold family reunions, last held in Oct. 2010, at the North’s Mount Kumgang resort on February 20-25. DPRK chief delegate Pak Yong Il calls this “a very important starting point for improving the North-South relations.” The South says that if the reunions go well, other issues can be discussed with the North.

: Kim Ki-mun, chairman of the (South) Korea Federation of Small and Medium-sized Businesses, says that KFSMB will seek to build a second complex like the KIC in the North. Rejecting Rason (Rajin-Sonbong) special zone in the DPRK’s northeast as logistically unsuitable and short of electricity, Kim hopes for the southwestern port cities of Nampo or Haeju; each less than two hours from the border “if a road is built.” He says ROK SMEs are “very satisfied” with the KIC, and some 2,000 are on a waiting list for any new such zone.

: After a week’s silence during which Seoul’s suggested date for Red Cross talks on reunions has passed, Pyongyang responds and offers Feb. 5 or 6. They settle on the former.

: Trials of the RFID entry system begin at the KIC. (See Jan. 13.)

: Yonhap reports that for the past fortnight North Korea has stopped sending its usual balloon-borne propaganda leaflets into the South.

:  Rodong Sinmun, daily paper of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) says on Jan. 28 that “north-south relations can never be improved by the efforts of [only] one side … Now all Koreans wait for a good news that an epochal phase of improved north-south relations will be open.” Article on Jan. 27 regrets that “the nation is killing time through mud-slinging and reckless military showdown which bring nothing good. The Korean nation really suffers big from division and wastes away precious time by escalating confrontation.”

: NDC repeats its offer, insisting it is sincere: “We’ve already been walking down the path on our own to completely cease provocations or slander of the other side.”

: In a telephone message to the head of the South’s Red Cross, North Korea suggests holding family reunions after the Lunar New Year holiday. Replying on Jan. 27, Seoul proposes reunions on Feb. 17-22 at Mount Kumgang, and talks on Jan. 29 to arrange these.

: National Defense Commission (NDC: the topmost DPRK executive body, above the Cabinet) makes three “principled crucial proposals”, including no provocation or slander and no hostile military acts. The latter includes cancelling US-ROK war games.

: MOU says that it used barely a quarter (27 percent) of the Won 1.09 trillion ($1.029 billion) earmarked in 2013 for its inter-Korean cooperation fund. Low as it is, this is the highest proportion disbursed for six years, i.e. since the end of the former “Sunshine Policy.” Most of it (Won 177.7 billion out of Won 296.4 billion) went not to North Korea, but as compensation to Southern SMEs invested in Kaesong for the zone’s five-month closure.

: ROK Ministry of Unification (MOU) says the new radio frequency identification (RFID) electronic tagging system will be ready this week and up and running later this month. This will allow Southern staff at the joint venture Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) to cross the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ, the de facto North-South border) at any time on permitted days, rather than being limited to strict time windows booked in advance as hitherto.

: MOU says that 1,516 North Koreans settled in the South last year; slightly up on 2012’s figure of 1,502, but still down from 2006-11 when annual flows were in the 2,000-3,000 range. 76 percent were female. The cumulative total of arrivals now stands at 26,124.

: Court officials in Seoul say that a 65-year old man, one of six South Koreans returned by the North in October, had murdered his wife (whose body was also returned) as he thought she was having an affair with a DPRK security official after they entered the North from China in 2011. The husband claimed she died in a botched suicide pact.

: Following Pyongyang’s rejection of its proposal, South Korea urges the North to “show a sincere attitude toward our offer” of renewed family reunions.

: The North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) rejects the South’s proposal for reunions of separated families as untimely on various grounds, but holds open the possibility that at some point “both sides can sit together in a good season.”

: The USFK-ROK Combined Forces Command (CFC) confirms that the annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint exercises will be held as usual, starting in late February. North Korea had cited these as one of the impediments to holding family reunions.

: KCNA reports that the Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA, the North’s rubber-stamp parliament) “decided to hold an election of deputies to the 13th SPA on March 9, Juche 103 (2014), according to Article 90 of the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK.” This is on schedule: the 12th SPA was chosen in 2009. Kim Jong Un is not yet an SPA member, having not been unveiled to his people or the world until September 2010.

: Yonhap, the ROK’s quasi-official news agency, says that since Kim Jong Un’s call for an end to mutual slander DPRK media have softened their tone. So far this year they have not directly criticized President Park, who in December alone had suffered over 70 separate personal attacks from the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

: In her first press conference since taking office last Feb. 25 President Park calls on North Korea to hold the family reunions it postponed in September at end-January. In questions she calls Korean reunification “a jackpot.” Though some fear its costs, she believes this “would be a chance for the economy to make a huge leap.”

: In her first ever press conference since taking office last Feb. 25, South Korean  President Park Geun-hye calls on North Korea to agree to hold the family reunions which it postponed in September at end-January, around the lunar new year holiday (Seollal) which this year falls on Jan. 31. In questions she causes a stir by calling Korean reunification “a jackpot.” (daebak in Korean). Although some fear the cost, she believes this “would be a chance for the economy to make a huge leap.”

: South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se urges “extra caution” in dealing with the North, in view of “growing uncertainty and vicissitudes in North Korean politics.”

: South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se urges “extra caution” in dealing with the North, in view of “growing uncertainty and vicissitudes in North Korean politics.”

: The Chinese news agency Xinhua says that a high speed rail link to the North Korean border, under construction since 2010, will open in August 2015. This will cut the time of the 207 km journey from Shenyang to Dandong, across the Yalu River from Sinuiju in the DPRK, from 3.5 hours to just an hour. (For the inter-Korean connection, see Dec. 11.)

: Kim Jong Un’s New Year speech attacks the South for internationalizing inter-Korean issues, yet also calls for an end to mud-slinging and offers to “join hands with anyone who opts to give priority to the nation and [wants] reunification regardless of his or her past.”

: DPRK supreme leader Kim Jong Un’s second New Year speech attacks the South for internationalizing inter-Korean issues, yet also calls for an end to mud-slinging and offers to “join hands with anyone who opts to give priority to the nation and [wants] reunification regardless of his or her past.”

: 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).

: 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.

: 43 Southern managers return from the KIC in the early hours. Seven remain, to sort out unpaid wages and taxes. Seoul denies that this is in any way a hostage situation.

: Unification Minister Ryoo says: “Our offer for dialogue still stands … but  North Korea must abandon its trite behavior. If they act like this, who will invest in the North?”

: Citing sources in Pyongyang, the Seoul-based DailyNK claims that before his death Kim Jong Il worried that the KIC would stir pro-South feelings and told his son and heir Kim Jong Un: “You must move decisively to close it as soon as you see a chance.”

: After the DPRK rejects a final deadline to commence negotiations, the ROK government tells its citizens still in the KIC to return home.

: The DPRK marks Army Day with a parade, not in downtown Pyongyang but at the Kumsusan Palace mausoleum east of the capital. Air Force Commander Ri Pyong Chol thunders that “Stalwart pilots, once given a sortie order, will load nuclear bombs, instead of fuel for return, and storm enemy strongholds to blow them up.” Strategic Rocket Force Commander Kim Rak Gyom adds that “the DPRK’s inter-continental ballistic missiles have already set the dens of the brigandish U.S. imperialists as their first target and officers and men of the Strategic Rocket Force are one click away from pushing the launch button.”

: None of the KIC’s 53,000 North Korean employees turn up for work.

: The North’s Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee (KAPPC) warns that “the situation on the Korean Peninsula is inching close to a thermonuclear war.” Since “it does not want to see foreigners in south Korea fall victim,” it “informs all foreign institutions and enterprises and foreigners including tourists in Seoul and all other parts of south Korea that they are requested to take measures for shelter and evacuation in advance for their safety.”

: Asked in the National Assembly about a potential fresh nuclear test by North Korea, Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae says there “is such a sign” of activity at the Punggye-ri site, but that he will not comment further on matters related to intelligence.

: After visiting the KIC, WPK CC Secretary Kim Yang Gon announces that “The DPRK will withdraw all its employees” and “temporarily suspend the operations in the zone and examine the issue of whether it will allow its existence or close it as the south Korean authorities and military warmongers seek to turn it into a hotbed of confrontation.”

: Several foreign embassies in Pyongyang, including those of Russia and the UK, report that DPRK authorities have contacted them to offer assistance in case they wish to leave. None do so. The British embassy rebukes North Korea for stirring up tensions.

: Dismissing Southern protests as “a provocative racket,” the CPRK warns that “The shutdown of the [Kaesong] Zone has become imminent. If the south Korean puppet[s] … keep vociferating … we will take a resolute measure of withdrawing all our personnel.”

: Without warning, North Korea starts refusing to allow Southern vehicles or personnel across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to enter the KIC. Those in the zone are free to leave, but most choose not to do so for fear of not being allowed back in again.

: DPRK says it is restarting its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon.

: The Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), the North’s rubber-stamp parliament, holds its regular one-day spring session. As usual this passes a budget with no numbers. Pak Pong Ju is reappointed premier. A law is passed declaring the DPRK a nuclear weapons state.

: The Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK CC) convenes in Pyongyang. It proclaims a new line of developing the economy and nuclear weapons in parallel (byungjin). Former Premier Pak Pong Ju is promoted to the Politburo.

: KCNA carries a “special statement” of “the government, political parties and organizations of the DPRK” under the headline: “North-South Relations Have Been Put at State of War.” This warns that “the time when words could work has passed,” and hence “the Supreme Command of the KPA was just when it made the judgment and decision to decisively settle accounts with the US imperialists and south Korean puppets by dint of the arms of Songun [military-first policy] … Time has come to stage a do-or-die final battle.”

: The North’s General Bureau for Central Guidance to the Development of the Special Zone (GBCGDSZ) releases a statement which KCNA headlines: “DPRK Warns Future of Kaesong Industrial Zone Depends on S. Korea’s Attitude.” Saying “it is an extremely unusual thing that the Kaesong Industrial Zone is still in existence under the grave situation,” this warns: “The south Korean puppet forces are left with no face to make complaint even though we ban the south side’s personnel’s entry into the zone and close it.”

: North Korea severs its military hotline with South Korea, normally used to handle border crossings between the South and the KIC. However such crossings continue, with North and South working out the details within the zone itself.

: Kim Byung-kwan, President Park’s nominee as defense minister, withdraws amid continuing criticism on various ethical grounds. To avoid any hiatus at a time of high tension, Park announces that she will instead retain the incumbent Kim Kwan-jin.

: Yonhap quotes prosecutors as saying that a North Korean woman recently arrested after entering the South as a defector last August claimed she had been an “ordinary housewife” in the North, whose regime had coerced her into spying (initially on South Koreans in China) by threats to harm her family.

: Yonhap quotes an unnamed defense ministry (MND) source as dismissing recent DPRK threats: “Barking dogs don’t bite.” The same source also claims that the North’s Korean People’s Army (KPA) is experiencing growing rates of desertion.

: Joint US-ROK military exercise Key Resolve is held.

: ROK Red Cross confirms the North has cut the mutual hotline at Panmunjom.

: The North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) declares that “the DPRK abrogates all agreements on nonaggression reached between the north and the south.” Furthermore, it “totally nullifies the [1992] joint declaration on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”. Third, “the DPRK will close the Panmunjom [Red Cross] liaison channel between the north and the south.” The statement ends: “We will never miss the golden chance to wage a great war for national reunification.”

: The UNSC unanimously passes Resolution 2094, condemning the DPRK’s Feb. 12 nuclear test and further tightening sanctions to include more monitoring of cargoes, diplomats and banks – especially bulk cash transfers. Banned luxury items are itemized for the first time.  North Korea once again angrily dismisses this censure.

: The annual joint US-ROK Foal Eagle exercises, “one of the largest and longest war games in the world,” get under way. They end on April 30.

: Park Geun-hye is inaugurated as president of the ROK, the first ever woman to hold that post. Her inauguration speech expresses the hope that “North Korea will abide by international norms and make the right choice so that the trust-building process … can move forward” towards “an era of harmonious unification.”

: At the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, DPRK diplomat Jon Yong Ryong warns: “As the saying goes, a new-born puppy knows no fear of a tiger. South Korea’s erratic behavior would only herald its final destruction.” Jon is roundly criticized by other delegates for “completely inappropriate language” and threatened with expulsion.

: A further and final batch of Cabinet nominations by President-elect Park includes Ryoo Kihl-jae as unification minister. An academic specialist on North Korea, Ryoo is the architect of Park Heun-hye’s “trustpolitik” philosophy.

: President-elect Park names her foreign policy adviser Yun Byung-se as foreign minister, and retired Army Gen. Kim Byung-kwan as defence minister. The latter is immediately criticized for a variety of alleged ethical and judgmental lapses.

: North Korea conducts its third nuclear test, at the usual site of Punggye-ri near the east coast. Its claim that this involved a miniaturized device cannot be confirmed; nor is it known whether this used plutonium or enriched uranium.

: (South) Korea Customs Service (KCS) data show that despite tensions inter-Korean trade in 2012 reached a record high of $1.97 billion. Southern exports rose 13.4 per cent year on year to $896.26 million, topped by Northern exports up 19.3 percent at $1.07 billion. 99 percent of this involved the joint venture KIC.

: ROK president-elect Park Geun-hye names former Defense Minister Kim Jang-soo, to head a new national security office within the Blue House (presidential office).

: The DPRK’s National Economic Cooperation Committee (NECC) warns the South that if it imposes “reckless” sanctions on the KIC, it will “have to pay dearly.”

: MOU reports to the ROK National Assembly (NA) that in view of sanctions under UNSCR 2087 there will be enhanced inspection of goods entering the KIC.

: Apropos UNSCR 2087, the NDC – the DPRK’s top executive body – criticizes “big countries, which [should] take the lead in building a fair world order” for “abandoning without hesitation even elementary principle.”

: At a press conference in Pyongyang, former defectors Kwang Ho and his wife Ko Kyong Hui denounce the South for deceiving them and tearfully thank Kim Jong Un for forgiving them. Theirs is the third such re-defection in recent months.

: UN Security Council (UNSC) unanimously passes Resolution 2087, condemning and sanctioning North Korea’s Dec. 12 rocket launch. As usual, Pyongyang at once rejects this as a US conspiracy and “a fraudulent document devoid of any legality.”

: MOU refuses requests by Incheon city and Gangwon province to contact the North about possible inter-Korean games at a youth soccer tournament in Hainan, China on Jan. 24-27. Both Koreas are already sending teams.

: ROK intelligence confirms Seoul press reports that a Northern defector aged 33 named Yu was arrested on Jan. 11. Working for Seoul Metropolitan Government, Yu is suspected of passing on to Pyongyang details of over 10,000 defectors in South Korea.

: ROK National Police Agency (NPA) says North Korea was behind last June’s cyber-attack which temporarily crippled the center-right Seoul daily JoongAng Ilbo’s website and server. This is the fifth separate such attack on ROK entities since 2009.

: The JoongAng Ilbo reports that the National Intelligence Service (NIS) has reorganized its tracking of North Korea, with separate departments for analysis and “early warning management” and increased use of “humint.” Under Lee Myung-bak the agency arrested 23 Northern infiltrators and caught 132 spies disguised as defectors, while 169 South Koreans were charged with praising or propagandizing the North. This compares to 43 arrests in total under Lee’s liberal predecessor Roh Moo-hyun, president during 2003-08.

: Survey by the ROK National Veterans Association reports that 78.7 percent of South Koreans surveyed reckon that a second Korean war is possible. Almost half (45.7 percent) believe that the nation’s division will last for at least 20 more years.

: MOU data show that in 2012 no North Koreans visited the South: the first zero score since 1998. Peaking at 1,313 in 2005, numbers fell from 332 in 2008 to 14 in 2011. Last year 110,116 South Koreans went north, almost all (99.8 percent) of them to the (KIC).

: MOU data show that in 2012 no North Koreans visited the South; the first zero score since 1998. Peaking at 1,313 in 2005, under Lee Myung-bak numbers fell from 332 in 2008 to 14 in 2011. Last year, 110,116 South Koreans went to the North, almost all (99.8 percent) of them to the KIC.

: MOU sources tell Yonhap that the ROK’s 2013 budget, finally passed by the National Assembly on Jan. 1, allocates 1.09 trillion won ($1.02 billion) to the fund for inter-Korean cooperation. This is 9.1 percent more than in 2012, anticipating some easing of tensions. This breaks down as 735.7 billion won for humanitarian assistance (up 13 percent, and including allocations to send 400,000 tons of rice and 300,000 tons of fertilizer); 265 billion won for economic cooperation; and 90.2 billion won for the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC).

: MOU sources tell Yonhap that South Korea’s 2013 budget, finally passed by the National Assembly in the small hours of Jan. 1, allocates 1.09 trillion won ($1.02 billion) to the ROK’s fund for inter-Korean cooperation: 9.1 percent more than in 2012, anticipating some easing of tensions. This breaks down as 735.7 billion won for humanitarian assistance (up 13 percent, and including allocations to send 400,000 tons of rice and 300,000 tons of fertilizer); 265 billion won for economic cooperation; and 90.2 billion won for the Kaesong Industrial Complex. MOU’s own budget gets a 4.4 percent hike, to 222.2 billion won. Under other budget heads Seoul will also spend 134.2 billion won helping Northern defectors settle in the South Korea, and give 27 billion won to international agencies which assist the DPRK.

: The North’s National Defense Commission (NDC) says that the next South Korean government “must choose between confrontation and peace.”

: ROK Ministry of Unification (MOU) reports that Northern defector arrivals fell to 1,508 in 2012, down from 2,706 in 2011 and the first annual total under 2,000 since 2006. The decline is attributed to tighter border control after Kim Jong Il’s death. The cumulative total of Northern escapees residing in South Korea at end-2012 was 24,613.

: The North’s National Defense Commission (NDC) says that the next South Korean government “must choose between confrontation and peace.”

: MOU reports that Northern defector arrivals fell to 1,508 in 2012, down from 2,706 in 2011 and the first annual total under 2,000 since 2006. The decline is attributed to tighter border control after Kim Jong Il’s death; by December the flow was rising again. The cumulative total of Northern escapees residing in South Korea at end-2012 was 24,613.

: Kim Jong Un’s first New Year speech, replacing the joint editorials of his father’s era, includes pro forma calls for an end to North-South confrontation – but also a threat to reunify Korea by force “if the aggressors dare launch a preemptive attack.”

: Kim Jong Un’s first New Year speech, replacing the joint editorials of his father’s era, includes pro forma calls for an end to North-South confrontation – but also a threat to reunify Korea by force “if the aggressors dare launch a preemptive attack.”

: KCNA swiftly if tersely reports that “The Saenuri Party candidate was elected after a close race in the South’s presidential election on Dec. 19.” It does not mention Park Geun-hye by name. (Normally Pyongyang waits 2-3 days; in 2007 it did not report Lee Myung-bak’s victory at all, according to Yonhap.)

: In South Korea’s presidential election, Park Geun-hye, daughter of the late dictator Park Chung-hee (1961-79) and candidate of the conservative ruling Saenuri Party, narrowly defeats Moon Jae-in of the liberal opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) to become modern Korea’s first woman leader. Her five-year term of office is due to begin on Feb. 25. Park and Moon polled 51.6 and 48 per cent of the votes cast, respectively.

: Sooner than expected, North Korea successfully launches its Unha-3 rocket and for the first time puts a satellite into orbit (which it claimed to have done twice before; those were undetectable, and this one soon ceases to function). South Korea and its allies condemn this as a de facto missile test in violation of UNSC resolutions.

: Seoul Central District Court sentences a former North Korean spy to five years in jail. The woman aged 46, who arrived as a refugee via Thailand a year ago, was found to have been a DPRK agent in China in 2001-06. She claimed the case was fabricated.

: South Korea opens a second resettlement facility for Northern defectors, called Hanawon (“house of unity”) like the original. Located at Hwacheon, 73 miles northeast of Seoul, the new facility cost $32 million and can house 500 defectors. Besides three months of compulsory basic adjustment training, it also offers professional development courses.

: Seoul Central District Court sentences a North Korean spy to four years in jail. The unnamed agent confessed to being sent to spy on defectors from the North. He claimed also to have been tasked with staging a traffic accident in China to injure Kim Jong Nam, the disinherited elder brother of DPRK leader Kim Jong Un, and to have paid a taxi driver to do this in July 2010; the attempt failed because Kim Jong Nam did not enter China when expected.

: In an editorial titled “UPP a friend or foe?” the Joongang Ilbo, by no means the most right-wing of Seoul’s dailies, accuses the hard-left Unified Progressive Party (UPP) of being “a second battalion” of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK). The party had claimed that the DPRK’s much-criticized imminent satellite launch is no different from the ROK’s space program, which has no military connections.

:   Secretariat of the DPRK Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea [CPRK] publishes a 7-point “open questionnaire” for Park Geun-hye, the ROK’s conservative candidate, calling on her to clarify her stance towards North Korea.

: DPRK’s Korean Committee for Space Technology announces “plans to launch another working satellite, second version of Kwangmyongsong-3, manufactured by its own efforts and with its own technology, true to the behests of leader Kim Jong Il.” The launch will take place from the Sohae Space Center between Dec. 10-22. South Korea and its allies immediately condemn this and urge Pyongyang to reconsider.

: Yonhap reports an anonymous ROK official as saying the DPRK has newly and unilaterally created a rule allowing it to confiscate the assets of Southern firms operating in the KIC that fail to comply with its equally unilateral new tax regulations.

: Seoul press reports that Pyonghwa Motors, an auto assembler in Nampo begun in 1999 as a 70:30 joint venture between the Unification Church (UC) and the DPRK government, is to close. Costing $55 million but with tiny volumes of 2,000 units a year built from imported kits, this was loss-making until 2009 when a $500,000 remittance became the first profit ever sent from North to South Korea.

: Two leading presidential candidates, Park Geun-hye of the ruling conservative Saenuri (New Frontier) Party and independent liberal Ahn Cheol-soo, each pledge to engage North Korea if elected. The third, Moon Jae-in of the opposition Democratic United Party (DUP), has gone further, proposing an economic union with the North.

: Yonhap reports that far from budging on its one-sided new tax demands in the KIC, North Korea is pressing the ROK government to make investors in the zone comply.

: Activists launch propaganda balloons from Imjingak, amid scuffles with local residents and shopkeepers who accuse them of raising tensions with North Korea as well as harming business by deterring tourists from visiting the DMZ.

: Seoul daily Hankyoreh highlights the cases of three students hauled in for police questioning after “retweeting” the DPRK website Urimizokkiri, even though they were clearly making fun of it. Under the National Security Law (NSL) it remains illegal for South Koreans to access or reproduce North Korean websites and other media sources.

: ROK police block routes to Imjingak Pavilion at the DMZ, after an unusually direct and specific threat by the KPA to shell it if activists went ahead with launching helium balloon carrying propaganda into the North from there, as they often do. The activists elude the authorities and eventually manage to send their balloons from Kanghwa Island instead.

: MOU confirms that in August North Korea unilaterally imposed new taxes at the KIC, demanding a total of $160,000 from nine of the 123 Southern firms invested there. The new rules demand to see daily financial data, which firms regard as confidential, and reserve the right to judge proper pricing of inputs and outputs. Pyongyang suspects these are being respectively inflated and deflated so that companies can minimize their tax liabilities.

: ROK Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin issues a public apology for the lax border security at the DMZ exposed by recent Northern military defections. Five generals and nine other officers in charge of the front will be disciplined.

: News emerges in Seoul of a cross-DMZ military defection on Oct. 2. This KPA soldier scaled three flood-lit barbed-wire fences unnoticed, and had to knock twice on ROK barracks doors to announce his presence and turn himself in before anyone realized he was there.

: ROK lawmaker Jun Byung-hun of the liberal opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) claims that Seoul’s suspension since mid-2008 of tours to Mount Kumgang has caused losses totaling 2.3 trillion won ($2.18 billion) to tour operator Hyundai Asan, other Southern firms, and local governments in the adjoining border areas.

: DUP rebuts as electioneering claims by ruling party lawmakers that former President Roh Moo-hyun, during his 2007 summit with Kim Jong Il, was ready to yield on the Northern Limit Line (NLL) as the de facto marine border in the West/Yellow Sea.

: An 18 year old Korean People’s Army (KPA) soldier from a border unit runs across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to defect, after reportedly shooting dead two of his officers. He is later said to be 160 cm tall but to weigh only 50 kg (110 pounds).

:   Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery, an ROK civic group supporting former “comfort women,” says it will formally protest a 500,000 won ($447) fine levied on it last month by MOU for issuing an unauthorized joint statement with a similar group in the DPRK, denouncing Japan. The ROK group says it had notified MOU of its plans, but the ministry refused to accept the notice.

: Choson Sinbo, daily paper of pro-North Koreans in Japan, says that South Korea’s upcoming presidential election in December “can become an opportunity to end the catastrophic North-South relations.”

: 65.7 percent of South Koreans, 6 percent more than a year ago, are unhappy with Lee Myung-bak’s hardline policies on North Korea, according to a poll by the Institute for Peace and Unification at Seoul National University. 57 percent support reunification, while 54 percent favor increased cooperation and exchanges. 69 percent fear that the North could attack again.

: The North’s SPA holds an unusual second session. The main business is to announce an extension of compulsory schooling from 11 years to 12.

: An official (presumably ROK) at the KIC says that the previous day a letter signed by most of the 123 Southern firms invested there was submitted to the DPRK authorities, protesting tax changes unilaterally imposed in August. These include a fine for accounting fraud of up to 200 times the sum involved.

: Sources in Seoul tell Yonhap News Agency that the ROK government is considering taking over the assets of small investors in the shuttered Mount Kumgang resort, worth a total of 133 billion won ($118 million).

: Unification Ministry (MOU) says ROK government will pay out 7.5 billion won ($6.7 million) to compensate Southern firms hit by Seoul’s ban since May 2010 on trade with the North (the KIC is exempt). Hitherto only loans had been offered, on a more generous scale; 253 companies have been lent a total of 56.9 billion won.

: ROK businesses in the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) tell the Korea Times that Choco Pies, a popular South Korean snack, are being used in the KIC as an incentive to boost productivity. Workers reportedly resell them at a premium in Northern markets.

: Left-leaning Seoul daily Hankyoreh reports that some ROK firms in northeast China are closing down because Seoul forbids them to hire DPRK workers, who are increasingly available in the area and much cheaper than their Chinese counterparts.

: Two ROK firms, steelmaker Posco and Hyundai Group, break ground for a 1.5 sq km $177 million distribution center in Hunchun city in Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, China. This is just upstream of the DPRK’s Rason Special Economic Zone, which it is clearly intended to serve.

: Two ROK firms, steelmaker Posco and Hyundai Group, break ground for a 1.5 sq km $177 million distribution center in Hunchun city in Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, China.

: Seoul High Court upholds a 4-year jail term for a defector named only as Ahn, who came to the South 17 years ago, for plotting to kill Park Sang-hak, a fellow defector and prominent anti-DPRK activist, with a poisoned needle.

: Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office files for an arrest warrant for a 50 year old North Korean spy named only as Kim. Arriving in June as a refugee, he confessed to being an agent of the DPRK Ministry of State Security so that he could “form a normal family” with a woman who came from China with him and who is also being investigated.

: ROK Minister of Strategy and Finance (MOSF) Bahk Jae-wan tells a special committee on long-term fiscal policy that “the unification of South and North Korea is a future that is not very far off, which makes the assumption that the countries will not be unified within the next 30 to 40 years seem absurd.” No reasons for his views are reported.

: The Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), North Korea’s rubber-stamp parliament, announces that an unusual second SPA session this year will be held on on Sept. 25. There is speculation that economic reforms will be announced.

: Kim Jong Un sends condolences to the family of Unification Church founder Moon Sun-myung, who died on Sept. 3 aged 92. Though anti-communist, the Northern-born Moon met Kim Il Sung and his companies invested in a hotel and auto plant in North Korea.

: The Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), North Korea’s rubber-stamp parliament, announces that an unusual second SPA session this year will be held on on Sept. 25, prompting speculation that economic reforms will be announced.

: Kim Jong Un sends condolences to the family of Unification Church founder Moon Sun-myung, who died on Sept. 3. Though seen as staunchly anti-communist, and originally expelled from North Korea where he was born, later in life Moon met with Kim Il Sung, and church companies invested in a hotel and auto plant in North Korea.

: 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 hum