North Korea - South Korea

Chronology from Jan 2003 to Mar 2003

:   Song Doo-hwan, a lawyer, is appointed as special counsel to investigate the “cash for peace” scandal.

:   Lee Sang-soo, secretary general of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party (MDP), says Kim Dae-jung may be questioned regarding secret funds sent to North Korea.

:   North Korea cancels upcoming economic and maritime talks, accusing the South of “pointing a sword” at it by raising Watchcon and holding wargames with the U.S.

: MOU says Seoul will accelerate humanitarian aid to North Korea, including 100,000 tons of corn worth $18 million dollars via the UN World Food Program.

: Blue House Spokeswoman Song Kyoung-hee is quoted as saying the ROK has raised its defense readiness level from Watchcon 3 to 2. This is denied by other officials.

:   MOU reports that inter-Korean trade in Jan.-Feb. rose 58 percent year on year, to $88.74 million. Seoul sent goods worth $52 million, while importing Northern goods worth $37 million.

:   Despite pressure from his own party, Roh decides not to veto the opposition bill appointing a special counsel to investigate the “cash for peace” scandal.

:   The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson arrives in Pusan for “Foal Eagle” exercise and replaces the USS Kitty Hawk which has been sent to the Persian Gulf for the Iraq war.

:   ROK Agriculture Minister Kim Young-jin says Seoul will send 1.3 million tons of rice from its stockpile to North Korea over three years. This is not cleared with the Unification Ministry, which a week later announces more modest plans.

: The North’s Asia-Pacific Peace Committee claims that the South’s opposition anticommunist Grand National Party sent a secret envoy to Pyongyang last year, offering aid if the party won the presidential election. The GNP dismisses this as “groundless lies.”

: North Korea attends the 10th CSCAP North Pacific working group meeting in Berkeley, CA.

:   After three days of talks in Kaesong, North and South agree to start relinking two trans-DMZ railways from late March. An ROK technical team will go north to inspect the Kyongui (western) line on March 20-22, and the eastern (Donghae) line on March 24-26.

:   North Korea again test-fires a short-range missile to the east of the Peninsula.

:   The DPRK Asia-Pacific Peace Committee issues a lengthy statement detailing and defending its ties with Hyundai Asan, and attacking ROK plans to investigate this.

: ROK MND condemns North Korea military for a series of provocations, in the first such criticism since Roh became president.

:   The two Koreas begin a new round of talks on building a permanent family reunion center at Mt. Kumgang. A Northern religious delegation returns home from Seoul.

:   Four North Korean fighter jets (two MiG-29s and two MiG-23s) buzz a U.S. RC-135S reconnaissance plane in international air space off the east coast of the Peninsula.

: A 105-strong delegation of Northern civic and religious leaders visits Seoul for a joint meeting commemorating the March 1, 1919 anti-Japanese popular uprising.

:   ROK Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun, the only minister from the Kim Dae-jung administration to keep his portfolio, pledges to enhance engagement with the North.

: South Korea’s opposition-controlled Parliament delays approval of new Cabinet until a bill is passed appointing a special counsel to probe the “cash for peace” issue.

:   Roh Moo-hyun sworn in as ROK president, succeeding Kim Dae-jung. His inaugural address pledges aid if the North abandons its nuclear program.

:   North Korea test-fires a short-range antiship missile over the East Sea (Sea of Japan) with prior warning, but overshadowing Roh’s inauguration.

:   A 204-strong tourist group becomes the first ordinary South Koreans to visit Mt. Kumgang by the new overland route. On March 6 North Korea closes the route, citing the need for road realignments.

:   Roh Moo-hyun’s senior secretary says Roh is willing to visit Pyongyang if invited, but hopes Kim Jong-il will visit South Korea.

: A 37-strong team from Hyundai Asan and Korea Land Corporation (Koland), partners in the Kaesong Industrial Zone project, uses the west coast temporary trans-DMZ road to enter North Korea for an advance survey of the site, returning home the same day.

:   North Korea and Hyundai Asan agree to dedicate a large gymnasium which Hyundai has built in Pyongyang on March 25-30 with cultural events and a basketball contest.

: North Korean MiG-19 fighter flies 13 km into Southern airspace over the Yellow Sea, but retreats after two minutes when ROK fighters are scrambled to intercept it.

: Ra Jong-yil, soon to be named Roh Moo-hyun’s national security adviser, has a secret meeting with DPRK officials in Beijing. The news leaks on March 4.

: The sixth round of separated family reunions is held at Mt. Kumgang. 561 elderly South Koreans travel overland, for the first time, to meet 290 of Northern kin.

:   Ministry of National Defense (MND) and ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command announce that the annual RSOI (Reception, Staging, Onward Movement, and Integration) and “Foal Eagle” joint military exercises will be held March 19-26 and March 4-Apr. 2 respectively.

:   Chung Mong-hun, chairman of the Hyundai group, admits that Hyundai sent $500 million covertly to North Korea in 2000, but insists it was for seven business projects.

:   Kim Dae-jung apologizes regarding Hyundai’s transfer of funds ($500 mllion, his security adviser Lim Dong-won confirms) to North Korea just before the June 2000 summit.

: Talks are held at Mt. Kumgang on building a permanent center for family reunions. The North says the overland route may be used for the sixth round, due shortly.

:   After a ceremonial opening of the east coast cross-border temporary road, a second 498-strong pilot tour group, mainly dignitaries, travels overland to Mt. Kumgang.

: MOU reports that during Kim Dae-jung’s five years as president, South Korea has sent humanitarian aid worth $462 million to the North. Of this, $272 million was governmental, with the remainder from nongovernmental organizations and the private sector.

: Moody’s Investors Services downgrades South Korea’s credit rating outlook by two notches, from positive to negative, specifically citing the North Korean nuclear crisis.

: The fourth meeting of the Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Promotion Committee is held in Seoul. No agreements are reached, except to meet again. The South warns that deepening economic cooperation depends on resolving the nuclear issue.

: PM Kim Seok-soo states that the ROK will deal with the DPRK nuclear issue and inter-Korean economic cooperation in tandem. The Ministry of Unification (MOU) announces an improved loan system for the South-North Korean Cooperation Fund.

:   Eighty-seven ROK government, tourist, and Hyundai officials test the new east coast overland route, going to Mt. Kumgang via a temporary road.

:   Citing national interest, ROK prosecutors drop their investigation of alleged illicit payments by Hyundai to North Korea, provoking criticism of political pressure.

: North and South Korean athletes march together in the opening and closing processions of the fifth Winter Asian Games, held in Aomori, Japan. Letters are exchanged for future sports cooperation, including for 24 DPRK skaters to visit the ROK in April.

:   South Korea’s Board of Audit and Inspection reports that over half of a $359 million loan from a state bank to a Hyundai affiliate was sent to North Korea, three days before the June 2000 North-South summit, for purposes that are not clear.

: At a military working-level meeting at Panmunjom, South and North Korea adopt an interim agreement on military guarantees for the use of temporary roads across the demilitarized zone (DMZ).

: Lim Dong-won, Kim Dae-jung’s senior advisor on unification, visits Pyongyang as a special presidential envoy to try to break the nuclear deadlock. His failure to meet with Kim Jong-il, as on previous visits, is seen in Seoul as a snub.

:   The third inter-Korean Red Cross working-level talks, held at Mt. Kumgang, end in agreement to hold the sixth round of separated family reunions there during Feb. 20-25.

: A second round of working-level talks, held in Pyongyang, agrees on various practicalities in relinking roads and railways in two cross-border corridors.

: The ninth inter-Korean ministerial talks are held in Seoul, with no result.

: North Korea expresses gratitude for South Korea’s provision of 400,000 tons of grain, nominally on loan terms, whose delivery was recently completed.

: South Korean Foreign Ministry calls on North Korea to cancel its decision, announced earlier that day, to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

:   South Korea’s President-elect Roh Moo-hyun calls for the North Korean nuclear crisis to be solved by diplomacy.

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