North Korea - South Korea

Chronology from Jan 2012 to May 2012

: KCNA claims that North Korea’s coal output has increased “in the spirit of making revenge upon the rat-like Lee Myung Bak group of traitors in south Korea.”

: President Lee warns that Seoul will respond strongly to any DPRK provocation.

: A KCNA headline reads: “DPRK Workers Vow to Wipe out Rat-like Lee Myung Bak Group.”

: Ignoring Pyongyang’s stepped-up threats, some 40 defector activists from Fighters for a Free North Korea send 10 large balloons carrying 200,000 anti-regime leaflets across the DMZ into North Korea from the usual spot, Imjingak pavilion near Paju.

: KCNA reports that Kim Jong Un “guided” a combined forces drill to mark the KPA’s supposed 80th anniversary; noting that combined unit 655 is “ready and able to immediately strike at the heart of the enemy who had attacked the integrity of the DPRK.”

: Rodong Sinmun declares: “It is necessary to make a clean sweep of the rat-like Lee Myung Bak group of bastards”. KCNA has four further articles using this phrase.

: KCNA headline reads “More Rallies Take Place to Vow to Wipe Out Rat-like Lee Group.”

: ROK Deputy Defense Minister Lim Kwan-bin says South Korea and the US agree that the chances of a new North Korean nuclear test are “very high,” and that this is “possible at any time.”

: ROK Navy promotes Senior Chief Petty Officer Heo Gwang-joon, a radar operative on the Aegis-equipped destroyer Sejong the Great, to master chief petty officer for being the first to detect North Korea’s rocket launch, 45 seconds after-blast-off.

: KCNA reports the chairman of the DPRK General Federation of Trade Unions as declaring that North Korea’s workers are fully ready to form a steel-strong corps and workers division for special action so that they may join the special action group of the Supreme Command of the KPA.

: KCNA headlines today include: “More Rallies Take Place to Vow to Wipe Out Rat-like Lee Group” and “Cartoons Satirizing Rat-like Myung Bak Enjoy Popularity in DPRK.”

: KCNA headline claims that “Servicepersons Wait for Order of Action.”

: The “special operation action group” of the KPA Supreme Command warns of “special actions” against “rat-like Lee Myung-bak”, ROK media et al.

: Lee Myung-bak tells the Education Center for Unification in Seoul that “rice will be abundant in two to three years” if North Korea gives up collective agriculture and privatizes its farmland. Conversely, “continued dependence on aid will only produce beggars.” He also urges Kim Jong Un to pay more heed to human rights.

: In an article headed “DPRK People Vow to Wipe out S. Korean Regime,” KCNA for the first time calls Lee Myung-bak “rat-like.”

: President Lee says South Korea needs strong military power, both hardware and psychologically because “North Korea makes provocations when we are weak.”

: Kim Il Sung’s centenary is marked by a big military parade in Pyongyang. Emulating his grandfather but not his father, Kim Jong Un makes his first public speech.

: The DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) – Congress, but not as we know it – holds its annual single-day session.

: North Korea launches its long-awaited three-stage rocket over the West (Yellow) Sea. It fails about 90 seconds after blast-off. Unusually, Pyongyang admits this.

: Large new statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, side by side, are unveiled on Mansudae Hill in Pyongyang.

: South Korea holds parliamentary elections.

: Fourth Conference of the WPK is held in Pyongyang. The late Kim Jong Il is proclaimed as the Party’s “eternal secretary general.” Kim Jong Un assumes the newly created post of WPK first secretary.

: Rodong Sinmun claims that “People of various social strata in south Korea censure Park Geun Hye as [an] arch criminal … They also brand her as a fascist dictator as bad as Lee Myung Bak.”

: The ROK hosts the second Nuclear Security Summit (NSS), bringing many of the world’s most powerful leaders to Seoul.

: North Korea announces that in mid-April it will launch a rocket carrying a satellite. It affects surprise when the US, South Korea, Japan and many others object that this would be a direct breach of the newly minted LDA.

: KCNA reports that in just 24 hours no fewer than 1,747,493 young people have ‘volunteered’ to join the KPA, following a call from its Supreme Command.

: According to a KCNA headline, “Rodong Sinmun Urges Park Geun Hye to Behave Herself.”

: Supreme Command of the KPA issues a statement, headlined by KCNA as “Strongest Warning Served to Those Who Hurt Dignity of Supreme Leadership.”

: North Korea and the US each announce what becomes known as the Leap Day Accord (LDA).

: Responding to the start of annual joint US-ROK military exercises, the North’s National Defense Commission (NDC) threatens a “sacred war” that will “make a clean sweep of the Lee group.” It adds, mysteriously, “We have war means more powerful than the US nukes.”

: Kim Jong Un is reported as visiting the southwestern front line, including an artillery unit which fatally shelled the South’s Yeonpyeong Island in November 2010.

: South Korea’s National Assembly Committee on Foreign Affairs and Unification calls on Beijing to stop repatriating Northern defectors.

: Kim Jong Un promotes 23 KPA generals including Kim Yong Chol, who is promoted to general. As head of the General Reconnaissance Bureau, Kim is seen by ROK intelligence as behind the March 2010’s sinking of the corvette Cheonan and other attacks, such as July 2009’s DDoS (computer virus) assaults on major ROK and US government agencies.

: President Lee urges China to follow international norms when handling DPRK refugees.

: North Korea says that a rare delegate conference of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) will be held in mid-April. The exact date is not specified.

: Kim Jong Il’s birthday – now called the Day of the Shining Star – is marked and celebrated very much as it was in his lifetime – with displays of synchronized swimming, exhibitions of Kimjopngilia flowers and so forth.

: The late Kim Jong Il is awarded the title generalissimo, hitherto held only by his father, for (inter alia) his “immortal contribution to global peace and stability.”

: Seoul daily Dong-A Ilbo claims that Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME), the world’s second largest shipbuilder, plans to invest in a ship repair dockyard and a steel plant in the new Hwanggeumpyong joint PRC-DPRK.

: ROK ruling Grand National Party (GNP) announces a new policy platform, which includes helping the North join the international community, rather than demanding reform and opening. On Feb. 2, the party changes its name to Saenuri (New Frontier).

: Rodong Sinmun, daily paper of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), declares that: “It is the demand of the times and the nation to sweep away the group of outrageous traitors hell-bent on confrontation with fellow countrymen.”

:   Rodong Sinmun avers that “It is necessary to give vent to the pent-up grudge of the Korean people against enemies and make a clean sweep of them from this land.” Lest there be any doubt, this means “the Lee group…heinous confrontation maniacs and thrice-cursed traitors”, at whom “it is imperative to deal sledge-hammer blows.”

: On Kim Jong Un’s birthday – although this is not mentioned – Korean Central Television (KCTV) airs a program praising him as a “genius among geniuses,” especially in military science. The great successor is shown driving a tank and galloping on horseback.

: ROK Unification Ministry (MOU) reports that in 2011 it spent only 42.6 billion won (US$36.6 million) or 4.2 percent of its 1.1 trillion won South-North Cooperation Fund – the least since 2000. Projects supported include a Korean dictionary, a family reunion center, the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), and aid to North Korean children via UNICEF.

: CPRK blasts “traitor Lee Myung-bak” for “vociferating about ‘a window of opportunity,’” calling this “balderdash,” “sheer sophism,” “a shameless jargon,” and “another hideous provocation … If a change is to be expected in the peninsula, it is only a total ruin of the Lee group which is as good as the living dead.”

: Korea Economic Research Institute (KERI), a Seoul think-tank, reports that North Korea’s military might is stronger than ever. In 2011 the KPA had a 1.02 million-strong army and record numbers of tanks, warships and air defense artillery. It has fewer combat planes than in 1986, but since the 1990s MiG-29 fighter jets have boosted quality.

:   Committee for Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) issues a report “indicting the Lee Myung-bak group of traitors for its unprecedented brutal acts during the mourning over the great loss to the nation.”

: South Korea lifts the temporary ban on its citizens visiting the North, which it had imposed on Dec. 19.

: A mass rally in Pyongyang is held pledge loyalty to Kim Jong Un. Similar events in provincial centers follow the next day, and a youth rally is held in the capital.

: In his New Year policy address, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak says that “the window of opportunity always remains open … if North Korea comes forward with a sincere attitude.” However, “if any aggression occurs, we will strongly respond.”

: ROK Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik expresses the hope that the DPRK’s new leadership “will make a positive step toward openness and development instead of a negative step toward isolation and backwardness.”

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