North Korea - South Korea

Chronology from Apr 2004 to Jul 2004

: ROK Red Cross informs DPRK counterpart of plans to send more aid to help rebuild Ryongchon, the scene of a huge explosion in April.

: The North denounces the Vietnam refugee airlift as “systematic and planned allurement and abduction and a crime of terror committed in broad daylight.”

: A second airlift from Vietnam brings the total of defector arrivals to 468.

: Amid tight media restrictions, over 200 North Korean refugees fly into a Seoul military airport from an unnamed Southeast Asian country (in fact Vietnam).

: Northern and Southern NGO delegations fail to agree on holding the usual joint Liberation Day celebrations Aug. 15.

: A scheduled third working-level head delegates’ meeting for the military talks is cancelled as the North fails to respond.

: The Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) reports that in the first half of this year inter-Korean trade grew 21 percent to $325 million. South Korea imported goods worth $116 million from the North, mostly agro-fisheries and textile products; while shipping $209 million worth, mostly chemicals and textiles.

: A cross-party group of 86 ROK lawmakers submits a bill to the National Assembly to revise the Law on Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation. This would let South Koreans just inform the government of contacts with North Koreans rather than having to seek permission.

: DPRK patrol boat crosses the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in pursuit of Chinese poachers, but retreats minutes later after an ROK vessel fires warning shots.

: The two Koreas agree that 100,000 tons of this year’s rice “loan” from South to North will be sent overland via the Kaesong and Donghae corridors. Transportation begins July 20. The remaining 300,000 tons, which South Korea is to buy abroad, will arrive by sea.

: A 10th round of family reunions is held at Mt. Kumgang. A select 100 from one side meets a larger number of kin from the other side in successive 3-day sessions.

: North Korea notifies the South by telephone that it will not attend the fifth inter-Korean maritime cooperation working-level contact, set for July 13-15 in the ROK.

: North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland (CPRF) denounces South Korea for banning a Southern condolence delegation from visiting the North to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of the DPRK’s founding “great leader,” Kim Il-sung.

: South Korea introduces new procedures for approving joint projects and visits to the Kaesong Industrial Zone (KIZ).

: Working-level military talks in Kaesong agree to keep open their new wireless communications to prevent accidental clashes in the West Sea, and to start the second phase of removing propaganda at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). South Korea says the hotline has worked normally since July 1, and that the North promised to respond to messages in future.

: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visits Seoul and meets President Roh Moo-hyun. He continues to Pyongyang, where he meets Kim Jong-il.

: The 10th working contact for relinking roads and railways ends at Mt. Kumgang. A 5-point agreement is signed, covering: designs for constructing stations on the newly connected sectors of the Seoul-Sinuiju and Donghae railroads, future schedules, supply of road safety materials necessary for road opening in October, and technical assistance for railroad and road works in signals, communications, and electricity systems.

: A row erupts in Seoul over the decision of a presidential commission to classify three North Korean agents, who died in Southern jails in the 1970s after refusing to renounce communism, as fighters for democracy against military rule.

: Some 29 of the GNP’s 121 National Assembly members visit Mt. Kumgang. North Korea refuses to talk to them, but they join a 1,000-strong party for the reopening of a hotel refurbished by Hyundai Asan, at which the DPRK for the first time now allows North Koreans to work.

: Chung Dong-young takes office as South Korea’s new unification minister.

: ROK and DPRK foreign ministers meet at ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Jakarta, and issue a joint statement. Seoul reportedly seeks to exchange liaison offices.

: Working talks on road and rail links are held at Mt. Kumgang.

: Working talks on road and rail links are held at Mt. Kumgang.

: The floor leader of South Korea’s ruling Uri Party suggests a bipartisan visit to Pyongyang by leaders of Uri and Grand National Party (GNP), the conservative main opposition, which could lead to a North-South parliamentary meeting.

: In a mini-reshuffle in Seoul, Chung Dong-young, ex-head of ruling Uri Party, is appointed unification minister, replacing Jeong Se-hyun who has held the post for two years.

: A ground-breaking ceremony is held at the Kaesong Industrial Zone for the first pilot phase of the project. 350 dignitaries from both sides attend.

: Both Koreas’ central bank chiefs, Park Seung (ROK) and Kim Wan-soo (DPRK), meet for the first time in Basel at the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) annual assembly. Park had urged the BIS to invite North Korea to this meeting.

: A second-round working-level consultative meeting on construction of the Kaesong Industrial Zone is held in Kaesong in the DPRK. At the same time, a meeting of the two sides’ foreign trade banks initials an agreement on clearing payments.

: A third round of full six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear issue is held in Beijing, preceded by working talks on June 21-22.

: Propaganda loudspeakers on both sides of DMZ are switched off, as agreed.

: For the first time, the ROK and DPRK navies share information about Chinese vessels fishing illegally in Korean waters in the West Sea (Yellow Sea).

: A 7-member DPRK delegation visits Seoul for the fourth anniversary of the June 2000 Pyongyang summit. Its head, Ri Jong-hyok, brings a message to President Roh from Kim Jong-il, prompting rumors that he may visit Seoul. A large-scale “Meeting of our Nation” is held in the ROK port of Inchon, uniting civic groups from both Koreas.

: The ROK and DPRK navies communicate by wireless for the first time since the 1953 Armistice, in five areas near the Northern Limit Line (NLL), using standard international radio frequencies (156.80 and 156.60 MHz).

: Working-level military talks on the recent agreement are held at Kaesong.

: The two Koreas’ Red Cross bodies agree to hold 10th round of family reunions July 11-16.

: Koland selects the first 15 firms to set up in Kaesong Industrial Zone. They include a watchmaker, an apparel firm, and a kitchen and bath fixture manufacturer. Criteria for selection included financial soundness, labor-intensivity, and small scale.

: South Korean construction company imports 1,000 tons of sand from the North by truck across the DMZ, the first time any imports have been allowed overland.

: A second round of senior military talks held at the ROK’s Mt. Sorak; parties agree on steps to avoid sea clashes, including a hotline. They also agree that cross-border propaganda at the DMZ will cease, with all loudspeakers and signboards to be dismantled by Aug. 15. Separately, on June 3 both Korean navies trade accusations of intruding in each others’ waters.

: Ninth inter-Korean economic talks are held in Pyongyang. Agreements include to press on with cross-border roads and make test runs on two trans-DMZ railways in October; to set up a joint agency to run the Kaesong Industrial Park, headed by a South Korean; and for Seoul to “lend” 400,000 tons of rice. A maritime agreement is also signed, but has still to be ratified.

: Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, the ROK’s trade and investment promotion agency, reports that a Seoul businessman has set up an e-commerce site, NKMall, to sell DPRK farm produce in South Korea.

: North Korea announces six extra sets of regulations for the Mt. Kumgang tourist zone, bringing the total to eight. The latest rules cover foreign currency, labor, and advertising. An earlier set dealt with entry, residence and exit procedures, customs, and zone management.

: The first ever inter-Korean general-level military talks are held at Mt. Kumgang. The ROK proposes naval liaison, to avoid clashes; the DPRK calls for an end to propaganda.

: Hyundai Asan hosts DPRK economic officials on a trip to special economic zones in Shanghai and Shenzhen, to learn lessons for the soon to open Kaesong Industrial Zone.

: On Buddha’s birthday, South Korea amnesties six of those convicted last year of sending secret payments to Pyongyang before the June 2000 summit.

: The ROK Unification Ministry says the Mt. Kumgang tours made a slight profit in March and April, for the first time ever, as tourist numbers increased to around 16,000 per month.

: South Korea’s Constitutional Court dismisses the National Assembly’s motion to impeach President Roh, so reinstating him with immediate effect.

: Six-party working group meetings held in Beijing.

: An internet radio station in Seoul critical of the DPRK, run by Northern refugees, reportedly risks eviction after verbal and physical threats accusing its staff of being “unpatriotic.”

: North Korea finally allows a South Korean aid convoy to cross the DMZ by land. Its cargo of school supplies is handed over to the North in Kaesong.

: 14th inter-Korean ministerial meeting held in Pyongyang. The sole item agreed is to hold direct military talks, a key ROK demand, and to meet again in August.

: ROK cargo plane flies to Pyongyang with 70 tons of emergency aid for Ryongchon. This is the first ever inter-Korean direct flight for humanitarian purposes.

: The ROK Red Cross says the DPRK rejected its offer to send rapid relief goods for Ryongchon overland via the DMZ, insisting instead that they be shipped. The first such ship reaches Nampo on April 29.

: Huge explosion at Ryongchon, a railway junction near the DPRK-China border. 154 are killed and some 1,300 injured. South Korea offers aid.

: ROK Bank of Korea (BOK) values the DPRK’s industrial plant in 2000 at 19 trillion Southern won ($16.45 billion): less than 1 percent of South Korea’s. The technology gap varies from 10 years in non-ferrous metals to 30 years in autos and textiles.

: Working-level economic talks, which were suspended by the DPRK, resume in the ROK city of Paju. The agenda includes accounts settlement procedures.

: Hyundai Asan president Kim Yoon-kyu says Kim Jong-il wants to build a DPRK Silicon Valley at Mt. Kumgang, hitherto a tourist resort.

: South Korea says it will deliver electricity for the Kaesong Industrial Zone across the DMZ. At a later stage it plans to build a sub-station at Kaesong, with safeguards to prevent the North from diverting power elsewhere.

: Parliamentary elections in South Korea give a narrow majority to new center-left Uri Party, which backs impeached President Roh. Pyongyang hails result.

: UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva passes EU-sponsored resolution on DPRK human rights 28 to 8. South Korea and 15 other countries abstain.

: Seoul says some 1,600 ROK firms have applied for the first phase of the Kaesong Industrial Zone. There will be room only for 250.

: The two Koreas agree in Kaesong on trans-DMZ train operations. The 16-clause agreement includes details on operation schedule, wireless communications, and more.

: Hyundai Asan and the parastatal Korea Land Corp. (Koland), co-developers of the Kaesong Industrial Zone, say that the DPRK and ROK have agreed a lease price of $16 million for the zone’s 3.3 sq. kilometers. This includes the cost of demolishing existing facilities.

: ROK Unification Ministry proposes to resume inter-Korean talks in Kaesong. The North had postponed these to protest joint U.S.-ROK military exercises.

Date Range