North Korea - South Korea

Chronology from Jan 2007 to Mar 2007

: ROK Unification Minister Lee says he does not see Ahn Hee-jeong as having broken the law by his secret meeting.

: It is announced in Seoul that for the first time two ROK athletes will run in a marathon in Pyongyang on April 15: a major DPRK holiday marking the late Kim Il-sung’s birthday.

: Aide to Lee Hae-chan claims that while in Pyongyang recently the ex-ROK premier suggested that the warship USS Pueblo, seized in 1968, should be returned to improve relations with the US. DPRK officials were reportedly not averse to the idea.

: After months of denials, the Blue House admits that Ahn Hee-jeong, a close aide of President Roh who currently holds no formal post, secretly met a senior North Korean envoy in Beijing on Oct. 20, 2006, just days after the North’s nuclear test.

: South Korean aid to the North resumes. A ship leaves the ROK port of Yeosu bearing 6,500 tons of fertilizer, 60,000 blankets, and other items.

: Former Unfication Minister Chung Dong-young visits the Kaesong zone, and suggests this is the best venue for a second inter-Korean summit: as a symbol of North-South cooperation, and for its convenience.

: Seoul daily JoongAng Ilbo says Lee Hae-chan will return to Pyongyang soon, rekindling speculation that he is acting as a special envoy to arrange a summit.

: A fifth round of video reunions is held, briefly reuniting around 120 separated families in 13 locations in South Korea and 10 in the North. After more than half a century apart, each family gets around two hours of contact.

: At a brief chance meeting at a reception in Kuwait with DPRK ambassador to Kuwait Ho Jong, Roh Moo-hyun asks him to tell Kim Jong-il “that I am acting from my heart.”

: Meeting in Kaesong, labor unions from both Koreas agree to celebrate May Day together in the ROK industrial port city of Ulsan, Hyundai’s heartland. This is the first time that this event, ongoing since 2002, will be held in South Korea. Some 60 North Koreans will attend.

: The ROK’s Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Committee holds its 182nd meeting. Seven agenda items are approved, including video reunions and the provision of aid for this as well as fertilizer and medical aid (measles, malaria, and foot and mouth).

: The DPRK Foreign Ministry criticizes the annual U.S.-ROK RSOI and Foal Eagle war games, due to start on March 25, as “very dangerous provocations” which jeopardize the Feb. 13 six-party agreement. Northern media repeat such routine attacks almost daily thereafter, into April.

: Lee Hae-chan proposes a four-way summit between the two Koreas, the U.S., and China. He again denies having been an envoy to broker a North-South summit.

: Good Friends, a Seoul-based NGO, claims that 70 percent of North Koreans are short of food, and that DPRK local officials fear famine may return.

: The DPRK’s 32-strong under-17 soccer squad arrives in the ROK’s Jeju island province for a month of training: the first time a Northern team has trained in the South. They will also tour four cities and play friendly matches. DPRK ice hockey and taekwondo teams are due to vist the ROK in April.

: After chairing the first meeting in Beijing of the six-party working group on energy cooperation, chief ROK nuclear negotiator Chun Yung-woo says Seoul will pay for the first batch of 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil which the DPRK is due to receive once the Yongbyon site is closed.

: Talks in Kaesong fail again to agree on a much-delayed test train run on two reconnected, but so far unused, cross-border railways. A separate meeting agrees to resume family reunions in May.

: Anonymous ROK government sources predict that  former President Kim Dae-jung will revisit Pyongyang around June, followed by a North-South summit in August or September.

: Former ROK Premier Lee returns from Pyongyang. He again denies being a special envoy, and says the North has shown movement on the “missing persons” (abductees) issue.

: After two days of working-level Red Cross talks at Mt Kumgang, both Koreas agree to resume construction, halted last year, of a family reunion center at the DPRK resort. The South will also give the North $400,000 to buy equipment for more frequent video reunions.

: ROK Foreign Minister Song Min-soon says the DPRK still wants to be supplied with a light-water reactor (LWR), and that this can be discussed at a later stage of the Six-Party Talks.

: Lee Hae-chan meets the DPRK’s titular head of state, Kim Yong-nam.

: MOU says the North has sent a fax asking for 300,000 tons of fertilizer.

: A delegation of the Committee for Peace in Northeast Asia of the ROK’s ruling Uri Party, led by former Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan, arrives in Pyongyang at the invitation of the DPRK’s National Reconciliation Council. Lee rebuts speculation that he is President Roh’s special envoy seeking to broker a second summit.

: North-South ministerial talks in Pyongyang close with a six-point joint statement, settting a detailed timetable to resume a range of inter-Korean contacts.

: Kim Yong-nam, the DPRK’s titular head of state as president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), meets ROK Unification Minister Lee and other Southern delegates to the ministerial talks in Pyongyang.

: A Southern delegation, led by Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung, flies into Pyongyang for the 20th inter-Korean ministerial talks.

: For the first time in an official ROK text, MOU says it will seek arms control talks with the DPRK this year. Ideas include a direct phone line between the two sides’ defense chiefs, and confidence-building steps like exchanges of military personnel.

: KCNA reports that the co-chairmen of the National Alliance for the Country’s Reunification – Pomminryon, a pro-North front organization – held an extraordinary meeting on Feb. 23 by exchanging faxes between the North, South, and overseas, to discuss plans for 2007.

: The ROK Unification Ministry (MOU) says it will resume expansion of the Kaesong industrial park, suspended last September due to rising tensions. It plans to lease a further 1.6 sq km of land in the zone to Southern firms by mid-April.

: MOU issues its policy goals for the year. They include establishment of peace systems on the peninsula, economic cooperation for co-development, humanitarian aid and socio-cultural exchanges. In the medium- and long-term, MOU plans to develop strategies to modernize infrastructure in the North, such as ports and railroads.

: Meeting in Kaesong, the two Koreas agree to hold the 20th ministerial talks – the first since last July – in Pyongyang, starting on Feb. 27.

: The head of the North’s delegation to inter-Korean ministerial talks accepts an offer from his Southern counterpart for working-level talks toward a resumption of this channel.

: The Six-Party Talks in Beijing agree on a detailed joint statement, setting up five working groups and laying down a detailed timetable for first steps by all concerned; including the closure of the DPRK’s nuclear site at Yongbyon within 60 days.

: A seven-hour meeting in Kaesong, the fourth since 2004, on fielding a joint team for the 2008 Beijing Olympics again ends in disagreement. South Korea wants athletes to be selected on merit, while the North insists on equal numbers from each side.

: The South’s Yonhap News Agency quotes an unnamed senior ROK official as saying that Southern aid to the North may resume once inter-Korean dialogue is restored and if the six-party nuclear talks make progress.

: The ROK’s island province of Jeju sends 2,150 tons of carrots and tangerines to the North. A similar amount again was due to be sent later in the month. Since 1998, Jeju has sent the DPRK 36,228 tons of tangerines and 13,000 tons of carrots.

: The North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) accuses the South of at least 70 cases of aerial espionage during the past month, and U.S. forces of a further 110 incidents.

: Teams from North and South Korea march jointly behind a neutral flag at the opening ceremony of the sixth Winter Asian Games in the northeast Chinese city of Changchun. As usual they go on to compete separately. DPRK television does not mention the joint march.

: In what is seen as a sign of détente, ROK Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung visits the Kaesong industrial complex. The 100-strong delegation is also allowed to tour Kaesong city, the first Southern group to do so since the North banned this last July.

: A spokesman for the DPRK’s Korean Asia-Pacific Peace Committee says KAPPC has no formal agreement with the ROK’s Hyundai Asan to organize city tours to Kaesong. The North has been trying to offer the contract to a rival ROK operator, Lotte.

: Northern political parties, government, and organizations issue a joint statement on unification, calling on South Koreans to eschew conservatism and cooperation with the U.S.

: The ROK vessel Heonseong-ho returns to its homeport of Gunsan, North Jeolla, with a cargo of sand from Haeju in the DPRK, two days after colliding with a DPRK fishing boat in Northern waters. Four DPRK fishermen are missing, and Pyongyang asked for Seoul’s cooperation in search and notification.

: The DPRK’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland issues a statement attacking the U.S. for sending a wing of F-117 Stealth fighter bombers and at least 300 support personnel to South Korea.

: North Korea returns a Southern squid boat and its crew of one engineer, who had sailed into Northern waters on the east coast on Dec. 25 for reasons unknown.

: Good Neighbors International, a Southern NGO, says it has sent penicillin and antibiotics worth $5 million to the North to help fight a scarlet fever epidemic.

: The ROK Olympic Committee says that on Jan. 5, the DPRK proposed, via an official in the border village on Panmunjom, that both Koreas march jointly in the opening and closing ceremonies of the Winter Asian Games to be held in Changchun, China, from Jan. 28.

: Jong Geun, secretary general of Green Doctors, an ROK NGO, says that from Jan. 11 doctors from both Koreas will work side by side for the first time, in GD’s 396 sq m hospital in the Kaesong industrial complex.

: ROK Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung calls for more aid to the DPRK once it abandons its nuclear ambitions, saying that “unless we fundamentally solve the problem of poverty in North Korea, security on the Korean Peninsula will always be in danger.” The opposition Grand National Party (GNP) criticizes Lee the same day, saying the problem is nuclear weapons rather than poverty and accusing the Roh administration of “begging for the inter-Korean summit.”

: Former ROK President Kim Dae-jung says the “possibility of an inter-Korean summit is higher than ever, as President Roh Moo-hyun has vowed to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-il anytime, anywhere.”

: Unification Minister Lee Jae-jeong calls for more aid to the DPRK once it abandons its nuclear ambitions, saying that “unless we fundamentally solve the problem of poverty in North Korea, security on the Korean Peninsula will always be in danger.” The opposition Grand National Party (GNP) criticizes Lee, saying the problem is nuclear weapons rather than poverty and accusing the Roh administration of “begging for the inter-Korean summit.”

: Former ROK President Kim Dae-jung says the “possibility of an inter-Korean summit is higher than ever, as President Roh has vowed to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-il anytime, anywhere.”

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