North Korea - South Korea

Chronology from Apr 2003 to Jul 2003

: Ground-breaking ceremony held for the Kaesong Industrial Zone, adjacent to the DMZ and 78 km northwest of Seoul.

: South Korea announces that Northern delegates will commute daily via the DMZ for a third round of road and rail talks, to be held in Paju near the DMZ July 2-4.

: A seventh round of family reunions begins at Mt. Kumgang, with 110 South Koreans meeting 217 of their Northern kin. Another group of some 400 South Koreans will visit Mt. Kumgang June 30-July 2, to be reunited with 100 relatives from North Korea.

: Hyundai’s cruise tours to Mt. Kumgang resume after a two-month suspension.

: 13 North Korean defectors arrive in Seoul from Thailand, where they had been under ROK embassy protection.

: South Korea’s main opposition Grand National Party (GNP), which controls Parliament, chooses staunch conservative Choe Byung-yul as its leader.

: Pyongyang warns GNP that further investigations of Hyundai’s payments to North Korea risk driving North-South relations “to a catastrophic phase.”

: Independent counsel Song finds that the ROK government illicitly sent $100 million to North Korea before the June 2000 summit.  Eight persons will face trial for this, including the chairman of Hyundai and two key aides of ex-President Kim Dae-jung.

: ROK President Roh rejects request by independent counsel Song Doo-hwan to extend by a month his probe into the “cash for summit” allegations.

: Up to 100,000 ROK veterans and others demonstrate in Seoul against North Korea’s nuclear threat. They burn a DPRK flag and a large portrait of Kim Jong-il.

: The South’s Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Council approves spending 167.6 billion won ($141 million) from the inter-Korean cooperation fund to finance 400,000 tons of rice for North Korea, at an agreed unit price of $265 per ton.

: South Korea hints that it may allow ex-party secretary Hwang Jang-yop, the highest level DPRK defector and an outspoken critic of Kim Jong-il, to accept an invitation to speak in the U.S.  The previous ROK government had refused this.

: Park Jie-won, former ROK culture minister and once the closest aide of ex-President Kim Dae-jung, is jailed pending trial on charges of bribery and abuse of office in connection with the “cash for summit” allegations.

: A “grand festival for national reunification” in Pyongyang marks the third anniversary of the Inter-Korean Joint Declaration, warning South Korea against “cooperating with outsiders in their anti-DPRK racket.” No commemoration is held in Seoul.

: The ROK and DPRK Red Cross organizations agree to hold a seventh round of separated family reunions at Mt. Kumgang June 27-July 2.

:   North Korea accuses South Korean Navy of repeatedly intruding into its territorial waters and warns them not to misjudge the DPRK’s self-restraint.

: ROK NGOs try to hand over lists of kidnapped South Koreans to the DPRK mission at the UN, but are rebuffed. They claim that over 80,000 South Koreans were taken to the North during the 1950-53 Korean War, and a further 486 since 1953.

: Working-level road and rail talks are held in Kaesong.  For the first time, the Southern delegation commutes daily by road across the DMZ through the Kyongui corridor.

:   South Korea warns that it may seize Northern fishing boats if they go on crossing the NLL and ignore warning shots.  Soon after, violations cease.

: ROK Navy fires nine warning shots at three DPRK fishing boats for violating the NLL.  Four boats again cross the line the next day.

:   South Korea warns the North to avoid “unnecessary tensions,” after DPRK crab fishing boats cross the Northern Limit Line (NLL) for a third successive day. North Korea does not accept the NLL.  Last year a firefight in this area killed six ROK navymen.

: Seoul warns that rice aid will be in jeopardy if Northern threats continue.

: The fifth meeting of the Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Promotion Committee closes in Pyongyang. A seven-point joint statement calls for projects to be expedited, and agrees that the South will send the North 400,000 tons of rice as a “loan.”

: North Korea says the South “will sustain an unspeakable disaster if it turns to confrontation.” The ROK delegation boycotts the Pyongyang talks until it gets an apology.

: The fifth meeting of the Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Promotion Committee opens in Pyongyang.

: The ROK independent counsel into Hyundai’s payments to North Korea reports that $200 million was sent one day before the June 2000 inter-Korean summit.

: Senior ROK military officer claims that North Korea is training computer hackers to reinforce its “cyber terror capabilities.”

: Jang Ung, a DPRK member of the International Olympic Committee, says the two Koreas could field a unified team at next year’s summer Olympics in Athens, if the ROK bid to host the 2010 winter Olympics at Pyongchang succeeds.

: North Korea announces that it regards the 1992 inter-Korean agreement on denuclearization of the Peninsula as nullified, putting the blame on hostile U.S. policies.

: Kotra, the ROK trade-investment promotion agency, reports that in 2002 South Korea overtook Japan to become North Korea’s no. 2 trade partner, after China. Japan-DPRK trade fell 22 percent to $366 million, while inter-Korean trade rose 59 percent to $642 million.

: South Korea decides to send 200,000 tons of fertilizer aid to the North, valued at $55 million. This is finally approved on May 16, for delivery within 40 days.

: Korea Research Institute for Strategy estimates ROK military capability at about two-thirds of the DPRK’s.  The South leads in quality, the North in quantity.

: The ROK’s Buddhist Order Association and the DPRK’s Buddhist Federation adopt a joint ceremonial statement to be read at all Buddhist temples across the Peninsula on Buddha’s Birthday (May 8).

: Ministerial talks in Pyongyang end, a day later than scheduled.  A six-point joint statement agrees on various joint projects.  Though not formally listed, North Korea reportedly agrees to participate in the Daegu Universiade games in August.

: The 10th inter-Korean ministerial-level talks open in Pyongyang. Initial sessions are largely taken up with wrangling over the nuclear issue.

: North Korea suspends Hyundai’s cruise tours to Mt. Kumgang, ostensibly as part of its quarantine measures against SARS.

: The ROK Unification Ministry says that South Korea will soon send 100,000 tons of maize (corn) to North Korea, via the UN World Food Program.

: ROK Unification Ministry reports that inter-Korean shipping rose 23.6 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, with 430 trips: 179 northbound and 251 southbound.  Total volume was a modest 94,298 tons, up 29 percent from last year.

: North Korea proposes that the 10th round of inter-Korean ministerial talks be held in Pyongyang April 27-29.  South Korea accepts.

: South Korea’s Red Cross says its Northern counterpart has asked for rice and fertilizer aid.

: The ROK Unification Ministry says that inter-Korean trade in the first quarter rose 45.6 percent year-on-year to $128 million.  Southern imports of $57.43 million were mainly textiles and agro-fisheries, while exports of $70.75 million were mostly steel and machinery.

: The ROK absents itself from the UN Commission on Human Rights to avoid voting on an EU-sponsored, U.S.-backed resolution condemning North Korea for “widespread and grave” human rights abuses. The resolution passes by 28 votes to 10, with 14 abstentions.

: South Korean Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun says the North has asked for 100 million trees to prevent flooding of the Imjin river, which flows from north to south.

: The date for the start of the 10th inter-Korean ministerial-level talks in Pyongyang passes. North Korea had not replied to the South’s messages about this.

: Secretariat of the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Unification of the Fatherland (CPRF) condemns South Korean National Assembly recommendation that Seoul should consider economic sanctions over the nuclear issue, calling it a “plain provocation.”

: Three members of a Northern family defect by boat to the South, the first such case via the East Sea (Sea of Japan).

: Yang Hyong-sop, vice chairman of the Presidium of North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), calls for more North-South exchanges at a meeting to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Kim Il-sung’s 10-point program for great national unity. He also calls on South Korea to “separate from foreign forces” and end joint military exercises with the U.S.

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