North Korea - South Korea

Chronology from Apr 2005 to Jul 2005

: There is surprise in Seoul at the inclusion of Ryonbong, a DPRK enterprise that is Pyonghwa Motors’ joint venture partner, among eight companies named on an order signed by President Bush on June 29 freezing the U.S. assets of alleged WMD proliferators. Two other North Korean firms, Tanchon bank and Changgwang, are also listed.

: Unification Minister Chung leaves for a hastily arranged trip to Washington, to brief U.S. officials on his talks with Kim Jong-il and the North-South ministerial meeting. He hopes to persuade skeptics of the merits of engaging the DPRK.

: ROK Unification Ministry says it has offered a 7-point aid package to the DPRK, which could begin even before the nuclear issue is resolved. Some of this has been under discussion with the North since January.

: Antonio Guterres, new UN High Commissioner for Refugees, says he wants “constructive dialogue” with Beijing on North Korean fugitives in China. He adds that “the first principle is that refoulement [forced return] cannot be accepted.”

: DPRK boxers win all bouts, against ROK, Japanese, and U.S. opponents, at a World Boxing Council Female (WBCF) match in Pyongyang. The WBCF is newly created by Park Sang-kwon, an ROK businessman linked to the Unification Church who also runs Pyonghwa Motors, which assembles Fiat cars at Nampo. Critics say the WBCF is divisive.

: ROK Maritime Ministry says it will remove 3 km of a 68 km barbed wire coastal fence in Kangwon province on the east coast south of the DMZ, to make beaches more user-friendly. It adds that closed-circuit TV suffices to guard the coast.

: GNP leader Park Geun-hye calls on North Korea to address humanitarian issues, including the return of ROK POWs and abductees, in return for aid from the South.

: South Korea says it will send an additional 150,000 tons of fertilizer to the North, starting today.

: SJ Tech, an ROK firm that makes gaskets at Kaesong, describes reports that one of its managers wants to marry a Northern colleague as “exaggerated.”

: In a speech on the 55th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War, President Roh warns that North Korea’s nuclear ambitions are the peninsula’s biggest threat.

: Paju city, north of Seoul, announces a peace festival to run Aug.1-Sept. 11. Highlights include a French illusionist who will make the DMZ disappear.

: DPRK ministerial delegation flies back to Pyongyang. Han Wan-sang, president of the ROK’s Red Cross, returns to Seoul after his talks in Pyongyang.

: South Korean officials say the North has asked for 500,000 tons of rice aid. This will be discussed at a joint economic committee due to meet in Seoul on July 9-12. On June 27, the UN World Food Program (WFP) warns that North Korea will soon cut its daily food ration from an already inadequate 250 grams to 200 grams.

: The DPRK delegation to the ministerial talks, led by Kwon Ho-ung, a senior Cabinet Councillor, meets President Roh at the Blue House in Seoul.

: Ministerial talks closed with a 12-point joint statement, pledging not only to resume most previous channels of North-South cooperation but to set up new ones.

: 33 North Korean delegates arrive in Seoul for 15th ministerial talks since the June 2000 summit. The last meeting was held in May 2004. Their Air Koryo plane returns to Pyongyang carrying Han Wan-sang, president of the ROK’s Red Cross, for talks.

: South Korea’s Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon says U.S. officials agree on the need for a “positive tone” toward North Korea and to avoid “trivial remarks.”

: An opening ceremony is held for Pyongyang Lions Ophthalmic Hospital, attended by the DPRK’s health minister and ROK and international Lions Club officials. The $8 million, 76-bed facility was funded by Lions Clubs in South Korea and worldwide. The largest eye hospital in North Korea, with 100 staff, it will open its doors in July.

: Minister Chung has unscheduled meeting with Kim Jong-il. The dear leader pledges to resume family reunions and military and maritime talks, and hints at returning to the Six-Party Talks.

: Yoon Hong-joon, head of ROK cultural heritage administration, issues a statement apologizing for having sung the theme song of “Nameless Heroes,” a DPRK film series lauding its spies during the Korean War, at a banquet in Pyongyang on June 14.

: The head of the visiting ROK delegation, Unification Minister Chung Dong-young, meets Kim Yong-nam, president of the presidium of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) and titular head of state.

: Two Southern delegations, one of 295 civic leaders and the other of 40 current and former officials, fly from Seoul to Pyongyang in separate planes. An opening ceremony for the summit’s fifth anniversary is held in Kim Il-sung Stadium.

: Former President Kim Dae-jung tells a conference in Seoul that the 2000 summit was “very successful” until 2002 when “U.S.-DPRK relations fell into stalemate.”

: Kang Chol-hwan, a DPRK gulag survivor and author, now a journalist in Seoul, is invited to the Oval Office to meet President George W Bush, who read his book.

: Hyundai Asan says it is building a golf course at Mt. Kumgang on a former military base, to include the world’s longest par seven fairway at 1,014-yards. It will also develop 109 km of coast up to Wonsan as a “huge resort belt.” ROK tourists will be able to drive their own cars across the DMZ and camp at Mt. Kumgang as early as this summer.

: President Roh flies to Washington for a single 3-hour meeting (including lunch) with President George W Bush. North Korea is on the menu.

: Ri Jong-hyok, vice chairman of the DPRK’s Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, attends a concert at Mt. Kumgang to mark the millionth ROK tourist brought by Hyundai since its project to develop the Northern east coast resort began in 1998.

: Citing U.S. hostility, North Korea asks South Korea to slash its delegation for the fifth summit anniversary to 30 officials and 190 civilians. They compromise.

: The mayor of Inchon, Ahn Sang-soo, flies to Pyongyang with a 42-person delegation on a plane provided by the DPRK, to pursue city-level exchanges. Ahn proposes that a road be built linking Inchon to Kaesong, to facilitate exports from its industrial zone.

: Both Koreas agree that the South will send 70 officials and 615 civilians to Pyongyang to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the North-South joint declaration.

: Head of the ROK presidential committee on balanced national development says that South Korea plans to help two Northern cities, Pyongyang and Wonsan, plus four zones: Kaesong, Sinuiju, Rajin-Sonbong, and Mt. Kumgang.

: Shinwon, an ROK apparel maker, stages the DPRK’s first Western-style fashion display at its Kaesong plant to showcase its spring collection, partly made there.

: North Korea agrees that foreign buyers may access Southern factories in the Kaesong industrial zone from Seoul, by crossing the DMZ. A German buyer visits Living Art, a kitchenware maker, by this route shortly afterward. Pyongyang also approves a joint concert at Hyundai’s Mt. Kumgang resort on June 8, to mark its millionth Southern tourist.

: A DPRK merchant ship, the first of three, docks in Ulsan to load fertilizer. These are the first Northern vessels to visit Southern ports since 1984, when North Korea delivered aid after floods in South Korea.

: An inter-Korean student meeting is held at Mt. Kumgang. The 70 ROK delegates, who join over 400 from the DPRK, include the current chair of Hanchongryun, a student federation still banned in the South as pro-North. Southern conservatives protest.

: Cheil Communications reveals that Cho Myong-ae (23), a leading North Korean traditional dancer who has performed in Seoul, is shooting a four-part commercial for Samsung’s Anycall mobile phones in Shanghai. Her fee was not disclosed.

: Vice ministerial talks take place in Kaesong: the first high-level official inter-Korean dialogue in 10 months. They agree to hold a 15th round of Cabinet-level talks in Seoul in June. The South will send the North 200,000 tons of fertilizer, starting May 21.

: South Korea asks the North to discuss the return of a monument taken to Japan in 1905. Tokyo has agreed to return it if the two Koreas can agree on terms.

: ROK Unification Ministry publishes statistics on inter-Korean transactions.

: ROK joint chiefs of staff intelligence head tells lawmakers that Kilju on the northeast coast, and 6-7 other areas in the DPRK, are being monitored for signs of nuclear test preparations.

: ROK National Intelligence Service says 26,213 South Koreans (not including tourists) visited the North last year, up 72 percent from 15,280 in 2003.

: ROK deputy foreign minister says Seoul sees no sign that North Korea is preparing for a nuclear test.

: KT (Korea Telecom), the leading ROK fixed-line telecoms operator, says it has signed a €164,000 contract with the DPRK’s Samcholli Corp. to develop two sorts of software. It claims that North Korea’s voice-recognition technology is the world’s best.

: Rodong Sinmun, daily paper of the DPRK’s ruling Korean Workers Party (KWP), accuses the ROK of preparing for war by taking arms from the U.S., and calls this a “double-dealing trick reminding one of a peddler crying wine and selling vinegar.”

: Three ROK agriculture ministry officials, with eight support staff, cross the DMZ for talks in Kaesong on containing the DPRK outbreak of bird flu. This is the first official government-level inter-Korean meeting since July 2004.

: Kim Yong-nam, the DPRK’s titular head of state, twice meets ROK Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan at the Asia-Africa Summit in Jakarta. They agree to resume inter-Korean dialogue, suspended for almost a year.

: In what is claimed as the first ever joint statement by Northern and Southern political parties since the Korean War, ROK Democratic Labor Party (DLP) and DPRK Social Democratic Party (SDP) accuse Japan of reviving militarism. A week later, after a three-day meeting at the North’s Mt. Kumgang resort, the two parties say that their leaders will meet in Pyongyang in July, another first.

: ROK Unification Ministry says it has officially agreed to North Korea’s request to protect the copyright of DPRK literary and artistic works in South Korea. An earlier agreement to this effect, signed in 1991, had never been implemented.

: ROK National Assembly Committee watches a video of a public execution in North Korea, despite objections by lawmakers of the ruling Uri party who question its authenticity.

: South Korea agrees to give equipment and materials worth 26 billion won ($25 million) to build six stations in North Korea on reconnected rail lines.

: ROK Unification Ministry says it plans legal revisions to permit bigger borrowings abroad to fund eventual larger-scale economic cooperation with DPRK.

: In Germany, President Roh says that “the possibility of North Korea’s collapse is very low” and South Korea “has no intention to encourage it.”

: South Korea says it will discuss aiding the North with its bird flu outbreak in talks at Kaesong on April 22, and will ship related equipment to Nampo immediately.

: For the third consecutive year, the ROK abstains when the UN Commission for Human Rights in Geneva (UNCHR) passes a resolution condemning DPRK human rights abuses, sponsored by Japan and EU member states, by 30 votes to 9.

: In Germany, ROK President Roh Moo-hyun says that “serious aid” to the North Korean economy will only be possible when the nuclear problem is resolved.

: North Korea requests equipment and veterinary supplies after South Korea offers to help contain an outbreak of bird flu.

: ROK Ministry of National Defense says it is considering armed robots to patrol the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). If feasible, they could be in place by 2011, allowing troops to be redeployed away from the border. This could cost $1.9 billion.

: With DPRK permission, for the first time since the 1950-53 Korean War, two ROK helicopters fly over the DMZ, near the east coast, trying to put out a forest fire.

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