North Korea - South Korea

Chronology from Apr 2010 to Jul 2010

: Choson Sinbo, reports that the DPRK soccer team returned home stony-faced on June 29, but “regained their smiles after being welcomed by their families” and supporters crowding Pyongyang’s Sunan airport.

: Minju Choson, warning that upcoming US-ROK naval drills could lead to “armed conflict and a full-scale war,” threatens to “uproot the stronghold of invaders.”

: The US State Department says that while the Cheonan sinking violates the 1953 Korean Armistice, it does not merit North Korea’s relisting as a state sponsor of terrorism.

: The KPA’s Panmunjom mission accuses USFK of bringing unspecified “heavy weapons” into the truce village, and warns of “strong military countermeasures” if they are not quickly withdrawn.

: Pyongyang says that in face of US hostile threats it will “bolster its nuclear deterrent in a newly developed way.”

: Pyongyang rejects as “preposterous” a proposal by the UN Command (UNC) in Korea that the Military Armistice Commission (MAC) discuss the Cheonan. It repeats a demand to send its own inspectors.

: G8 leaders meeting in Canada condemn the Cheonan’s sinking, note that the JIG found North Korea guilty, and call on Pyongyang to refrain from provocations.

: KCNA reports the WPK Political Bureau as calling a very rare meeting for early September, “for electing its highest leading body reflecting the new requirements of the WPK”.

: Both Koreas mark the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War. In Pyongyang 120,000 people attend an anti-US rally. In Seoul President Lee thanks the ROK’s UN allies for their sacrifice and demands the DPRK admit and apologise for sinking the Cheonan.

: The South’s central Bank of Korea (BOK) publishes its annual estimates of North Korean national income.

:  Won Sei-hoon, director of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), tells the National Assembly’s Intelligence Committee that Kim Jong-il’s ill health is driving him to hasten the process of installing his third son Kim Jong-eun as his successor.

: MOU says it will allow an NGO to send anti-malaria aid worth 400 million won (US$337,000) to North Korea.

: MOU reports to the NA that, despite the Cheonan tensions, the number of North Korean workers at the Kaesong IZ in June reached an all-time high of 44,000.

: The ROK says it has a sales brochure picturing a heavy torpedo of the same type as that which sank the Cheonan, and bearing the message: “Guaranteed by the DPRK.”

: At a press conference in Pyongyang, Rev. Han Sang-ryeol denounces the Lee Myung-bak administration for turning its back on the June 2000 joint declaration.

: Seoul’s Foreign Ministry confirms press reports that the gas xenon has been detected near the DMZ, but denies that this means Pyongyang has conducted a nuclear test.

: KCNA reports an unusually full schedule for Kim Jong-il. In a single day he visited a mine, an electronics factory, a co-operative farm, a machine complex and a military training facility, all in the northwest.

: MOU says it is assessing claims by some 800 ROK firms that Seoul’s ban on inter-Korean trade has hurt them. It warns that this does not imply a commitment to offer any or all of them emergency funding. (See also June 8 and June 11.)

: The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appoints Marzuki Darusman, a former attorney general of Indonesia, as special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea.

: DPRK political parties and organizations issue a joint statement on the 10th anniversary of the June 15 joint declaration. This claims that the [Southern] “puppet group’s frantic moves for confrontation and war are aimed at effacing the June 15 joint declaration from the minds of the south Korean people and leaving it forgotten for good.”

: MOU says it has approved four more shipments of humanitarian assistance to four different regions of North Korea.

: South Korean diplomats and technical experts from the JIG brief the UNSC on the Cheonan for two hours. No dissent is voiced, though China and Russia are silent. The Council then hears North Korean diplomats for one hour, who deny any involvement.

: At a meeting in Pyongyang to mark the 10th anniversary of the North-South summit, the senior DPRK figure Yang Hyong-sop says that the only way to avoid war is to implement the June 15 joint declaration signed in 2000 by Kim Jong-il and Kim Dae-jung.

: KCNA reports that the DPRK has issued a new postage stamp to mark the 10th anniversary of the historic June 15 joint declaration between the two Koreas.

: A survey of teenage Northern defectors in South Korea finds that over half (79 out of 140) watched Southern films or dramas on DVD or videotape while still in North Korea.

: Choson Sinbo says that North Koreans watching the soccer World Cup on TV “without exception” cheered for South Korea, who beat Greece 2-1 on June 12.

: The KPA General Staff issues a “crucial declaration.” This repeats a warning that it will “blow up” the South’s propaganda loudspeakers, adding the threat of a “merciless strike [to] turn Seoul, the stronghold of the group of traitors, into a sea of flame.”

: Rev. Han Sang-ryeol, a radical South Korean priest, flies into Pyongyang to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the 2000 North-South summit.

: KDI estimates that the South’s suspension of most mutual trade will cost North Korea about $280 million a year.

: A GNP lawmaker quotes ROK Defense Minister Kim Tae-young as telling the NA that “we expelled 11 North Korean ships from our waters 20 times” with “no major trouble” since Seoul decided to bar passage to DPRK vessels on May 24.

: KCNA briefly reports on the ROK’s failed rocket launch.

: At a diplomatic reception in Johannesburg for the start of the soccer World Cup, DPRK ambassador to South Africa An Hui-jong follows his ROK counterpart Kim Han-soo to the bathroom, grabs his arm from behind, and threatens that Pyongyang “will not just let go” if Seoul continues to campaign globally over the Cheonan.

: A South Korea rocket carrying a climate observation satellite explodes seconds into its flight, the country’s second major space setback in less than a year.

: MOU says it has approved two civilian shipments of baby food for DPRK infants, the first humanitarian aid since the Cheonan findings.

: The ROK military says it has completed installing loudspeakers in eleven frontline locations, but has not yet decided when to resume propaganda broadcasts.

: Sin Son-ho, DPRK permanent representative at the UN, sends a message to UNSC President Claude Heller, urging a new probe into the sinking of the Cheonan and again warning of “serious” consequences if punishment against Pyongyang is discussed.

: Some 40 ROK companies doing processing on commission (POC) trade with the DPRK call on Seoul to suspend its trade ban so they can honor contracts already made.

: A rare second meeting of the DPRK SPA sees Kim Jong-il’s brother-in-law Jang Song-taek promoted to vice-chairman of the NDC.

: A report by the Korea Development Institute (KDI), an ROK state think-tank, says the DPRK’s currency reform last December has led to escalating inflation, economic chaos and social unrest as the Northern won plunged in value despite its redenomination.

: The ROK formally refers the Cheonan sinking to the UN Security Council (UNSC). North Korea urges the UNSC to demand a new probe into this, and threatens “the toughest retaliation” should the world body discuss punishing the DPRK.

: KCNA calls ROK local election results an “iron hammer” against Lee Myung-bak.

: KCNA reports Kim Jong-il as attending a function for the first time since May 21.

: President Lee’s ruling Grand National Party (GNP) suffers an unexpected rebuff in local elections.

: KCNA reports mass rallies in four northerly provinces – North Pyongan, Jagang, South Hamgyong, and Ryanggang – to denounce “the US imperialists and the Lee Myung-bak group of traitors for their smear campaign against the DPRK.” June 3 sees similar rallies in southern areas: Kangwon, North and South Hwanghae, and Nampo city. South Pyongan and North Hamgyong follow suit on June 4-5, completing the line-up.

: A Seoul official says that despite Pyongyang’s threats to shut the Kaesong industrial zone (KIZ), North Koreans on-site want to keep it going.

: South Korea’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) says it will draw up Seoul’s first “road map” for improving North Korean human rights.

: MND rebuts the NDC’s denials from May 28 in detail.

: A 100,000-strong mass rally in Pyongyang denounces the South for accusing the North of sinking the Cheonan.

: The final declaration of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference urges Pyongyang “to fulfill [its] commitments under the six-party talks, including the complete and verifiable abandonment of all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in accordance with the September 2005 Joint Statement.”

: North Korea’s NDC holds a press conference to refute the South’s charges that the North sank the Cheonan. Maj. Gen. Pak Rim-su, director of the NDC’s policy department, says: “It does not make any sense militarily that a 130-ton submersible carrying a heavy 1.7-ton torpedo traveled through the open sea into the South, sank the ship and returned home.” He also criticizes Seoul for not letting the North in to conduct its own investigation.

: The KPA General Staff issues a seven-point “crucial notice.” Inter alia, this retracts military guarantees for North-South cooperation and exchange; threatens “merciless counteractions” if the South resumes propaganda broadcasts at the DMZ; bans “entry of the group of traitors including the puppet authorities into the DPRK;” closes North Korea’s seas, airspace and territory to “warships, airplanes and other means of transportation of the group of traitors;” and declares void agreements to prevent accidental conflict in the West Sea.

: South Korea launches an anti-submarine drill off its west coast.

: The DPRK expels eight ROK government officials from the KIZ. It repeats a threat to shoot Southern loudspeakers if propaganda broadcasts resume. Yet the KIZ remains in operation, as do cross-border traffic and the telecoms required to approve passage.

: The South’s Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI) publishes an analysis of North Korea’s December 2008 census. The DPRK population is tallied at 23.34 million.

: In a vehement riposte, the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) issues a terse 8-point statement declaring inter alia that “all relations with the puppet authorities will be severed,” with no further contact while Lee Myung-bak is in office. “All communication links between the north and the south will be cut off” and inter-Korean relations “will be handled under a wartime law.” Markets worldwide register falls.

: The South’s state-run Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (Kotra) says that North Korea’s trade volume in 2009 fell 10.5 percent from 2008 to $3.41 billion, with UN sanctions a major cause.

: The ROK’s response to the Cheonan comes in a speech by President Lee and a joint press conference of the defense, foreign affairs, and unification ministries. Seoul will complain to the UN Security Council (UNSC). Inter-Korean trade is suspended, except the KIZ. DPRK ships are barred from ROK waters. Cross-border propaganda broadcasts will be resumed, and Seoul will react militarily to any future provocation. This rattles the markets.

: DPRK Defense Minister Kim Yong-chun repeats the demand that the South “unconditionally” allow a Northern delegation to inspect the Cheonan evidence.

: Seoul rejects Pyongyang’s demand to send inspectors, telling it to raise this at the Military Armistice Commission. In fact the MAC has been in limbo since the North unilaterally withdrew from it in the 1990s.

: South Korea’s Joint Investigation Group (JIG) of local and foreign experts publishes its findings that the Cheonan was sunk by a DPRK torpedo. The US, Japan, and other Western allies offer support and condemn North Korea. Seoul says it will announce its retaliation after the weekend.

: North Korea’s NDC denies culpability for the Cheonan and says it will send an inspection team to the south: “The group of traitors should produce before the dignified inspection group of the DPRK material evidence proving that the sinking of the warship is linked with us.” The NDC further threatens a “sacred war”, “unpredictable sledge-hammer blows” and much more against traitors, riff-raffs, lackeys and human scum.

:  Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan says North Korea’s role in sinking the Cheonan is “obvious.” The same day the DPRK Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) accuses the “puppet group” of using the sinking as a “golden opportunity to push North-South relations to a catastrophe.”

: Two groups of South Koreans working in the North are recalled; MOU claims they returned voluntarily. 11 archaeologists quit a joint palace excavation in Kaesong three weeks early, while 64 sand collectors working off both coasts sail home.

: South Korea’s Defense Ministry says that investigators have found evidence pointing to a North Korean attack on the Cheonan.

: MOU says a Southern manager at the KIZ was questioned and expelled on May 14 after being found with a booklet of training materials for DPRK workers in the zone.

: MOU says that on May 14 it formally asked 12 Cabinet ministries or agencies to suspend their budgets for exchanges with North Korea. It says humanitarian aid is exempt, but NGOs complain they are forbidden to send even milk powder and medicines for infants.

: Veteran DPRK political figure Yang Hyong-sop, currently vice-chair of the SPA Presidium, in the first comment on the Cheonan by a named senior Northern official, denounces the “puppet military fascist clique” for escalating confrontation by falsely accusing the North.

: The 13th Pyongyang Spring International Trade Fair opens, with exhibitors from 12 countries. These include “Taipei of China,” but not South Korea.

: The North’s NDC relieves Kim Il-chol, an admiral and ex-defense minister demoted to vice minister last year, of all his posts, citing “his advanced age of 80.”

: MOU tells some 200 ROK firms doing business with the North not to visit, sign new deals or supply any further materials, lest they “suffer unexpected losses under the uncertain and murky circumstances” on the peninsula. The Kaesong zone is exempted.

: Rodong Sinmun claims that the DPRK has accomplished “successful nuclear fusion.” No details are given, but outsiders are skeptical. If true this could enable Pyongyang to make a hydrogen bomb.

: Hyundai Asan said it incurred operating losses of 32.3 billion won ($28.4 million) last year, plus additional losses of about 2 billion won per month this year, from the South’s suspension of Mt. Kumgang tourism.

: MOU reveals that on May 1 North Korea took a 20-strong Chinese business group around the KIZ, adding: “We’re not clear about what the North is trying to achieve.”

: An unnamed ROK Foreign Ministry (MOFAT) source in Seoul refutes the idea that Kim Jong-il’s visit to China means that North Korea will return to the Six-Party Talks.

: Accusing Seoul of arousing tension, Minju Joson warns that “if the [South] conservative faction provokes a war, it will severely taste the power of the war deterrent that our military and people have been strengthening.”

: The DPRK website Uriminzokkiri dismisses claims that the North tried to kill Hwang Jang-yop as “a groundless act of manipulation” by Seoul. (But see April 4, above.)

: Minju Joson, daily paper of the DPRK Cabinet, warns of further “punitive measures” if South Korea retaliates against the seizure of Southern assets at Mt. Kumgang.

: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, a former ROK foreign minister, calls on North Korea to return to the Six-Party Talks.

: Sources in Seoul and elsewhere report that Kim Jong-il has begun a long-awaited and nominally secret visit to China: his first since 2006 and his fifth since 2000. He returns home on May 7, apparently a day earlier than planned and possibly in high dudgeon.

: Choson Sinbo, daily paper of pro-North ethnic Koreans in Japan, warns that “befitting counteraction will be taken” if Seoul blames Pyongyang for sinking the Cheonan and takes action against the North in consequence.

: Fighters for Free North Korea (FFNK), a Seoul-based NGO, sends 500 small balloons across the DMZ for NKFW (see April 25). Their contents include 100,000 leaflets, 3,000 US$1 notes, 200 small radios, 200 DVDs, anti-regime materials and the full text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. FFNK carried out a similar exercise on April 15.

: ROK President Lee and the DPRK’s titular head of state, Kim Yong-nam, each attend the opening ceremony of the Shanghai World Expo. They do not actually meet, being seated at separate dinner tables.

: The GGBDSS carries out its threat of April 23, uniliaterally freezing facilities at Mt Kumgang including shops, a hotel, a restaurant and golf course.

: Kim Jong-il’s visits include KPA Unit 586, thought to be the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces (MPAF) reconnaissance bureau which handles anti-ROK operations.

: The US-based North Korea Freedom Coalition holds its annual North Korea Freedom Week (NKFW) in Seoul for the first time, instead of Washington. It closes with a balloon launch across the DMZ sending radios, money and messages. Je Sung-ho, the ROK government’s envoy for North Korean human rights, is among the speakers.

:   Chief of the KPA General Staff Ri Yong-ho attacks “the conservative ruling forces of south Korea” as “wicked sycophants, traitors and enemies of national reunification … hell-bent on perpetuating national division and provoking a new war.”

: The DPRK General Guidance Bureau for the Development of Scenic Spots (GGBDSS) announces that it will “freeze all the remaining real estates of the south side in the Mt. Kumgang Tourist Zone and expel all their management personnel.”

: Zhang Xinsen, the newly arrived Chinese ambassador in Seoul, describes the Cheonan sinking as “unfortunate” but calls for “… more dialogue between South and North Korea as brothers to maintain peace on the Korean peninsula.”

: A memorandum of the DPRK Foreign Ministry (MFA) reiterates its demand to be recognized as a nuclear arms state before joining global denuclearization efforts. In return, Pyongyang “will neither participate in a nuclear arms race nor produce more [nuclear weapons] than it feels necessary.”

: The Seoul Central District Prosecution says that two North Korean secret agents, who entered the South via China and Thailand disguised as defectors, have been arrested for plotting to kill the senior defector Hwang Jang-yop (see April 4).

: Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan says there is no evidence that a third DPRK nuclear test is imminent. US State Department concurs. He adds that if Pyongyang is guilty of the Cheonan’s sinking, Six-Party Talks will not resume and “all options” will be reviewed.

: In Pyongyang’s first official comment on the Cheonan, KCNA denies any DPRK role in this “regretful accident.” It accuses “puppet military warmongers, right-wing conservative politicians and… other traitors in south Korea” of “foolishly seeking to link the accident with the north at any cost,” so as to divert attention from “the worst ruling crisis.”

: Rodong Sinmun dismisses Lee Myung-bak’s “grand bargain” for denuclearizing the DPRK as “a childish and clumsy plot that does not even deserve a mention…. [It] makes us wonder how they will resolve all the issues … such as the pullout of US troops, end of joint military exercises and a peace treaty between the DPRK and the US, all at the same time.”

: South Korean investigators cite an external explosion as the likeliest cause of the sinking of the ROK corvette Cheonan.

: The Cheonan’s stern section is retrieved, containing many bodies. The whole process is shown live on ROK TV, with broadcasters suspending their normal programming.

: On the eve of “Sun’s Day” – DPRK founder Kim Il-sung’s birthday, Kim Jong-il promotes 100 general-grade military officers.

: MOU says in a report to the NA that prices and exchange rates in the North seem now to be stabilizing after a volatile period following 2009’s currency redenomination.

: At the inaugural Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) held in Washington, President Lee calls on North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons program. If it does so, Lee offers to invite the DPRK to the next NSS in Seoul in 2012.

: A 395-strong Chinese tourism delegation arrives in Pyongyang. The concern in Seoul is that the North’s Mt Kumgang resort may be given to Chinese firms to use or run.

: The North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) cites military officials as threatening “decisive measures” unless Seoul stops NGOs sending critical leaflets across the DMZ by balloon. KCNA calls this a “despicable psychological smear campaign.”

: Eight officials led by Pak Rim-su, policy director of the National Defence Commission make a surprise inspection of the Kaesong Industrial Zone (KIZ). The ROK Unification Ministry (MOU) reports that the inspectors’ questions ranged from the productivity of the KIZ’s 42,000 Northern workers to the capacity of its sewage system.

: The Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) holds its annual one-day meeting. It passes a budget without solid numbers. The Constitution is revised, but no details are published.

: The DPRK freezes ROK state-owned facilities at the idled Mt Kumgang tourist resort. Locks are sealed, and four workers expelled. However the expulsion does not extend to two employees of Hyundai Asan.

: Won Se-hoon, head of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), tells the National Assembly (NA)’s Intelligence Committee that Kim Jong-il may visit China later in the month. He also says it is difficult to conclude without further evidence that North Korea was implicated in the sinking of the Cheonan.

: The Science and Technology Policy Institute (STEPI) in Seoul, an ROK state think-tank, after a technical analysis says that the DPRK’s Linux-based “Red Star” computer operating system is mainly designed to monitor and control its users’ access to the Internet.

: As senior defector Hwang Jang-yop arrives in Japan after visiting the US, the Mainichi Shimbun reports that in secret speeches after the former secretary of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) defected in 1997, Kim Jong-il cursed him as “worse than a dog.” A day later Uriminzokkiri, an official DPRK website, calls Hwang “an ugly traitor” and warns he “will never be safe.” At 87 Hwang remains an active and fierce critic.

: North Korea accuses the South of an “armed provocation” – specifically, of firing at them – in the eastern sector of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Seoul denies this.

: Under the headline “Suspicion of N. Korean Hand in Sinking Mounts,” Chosun Ilbo quotes military sources as citing a “60-70 per cent chance” that the Cheonan was hit by a torpedo from a DPRK semi-submersible, rather than an old mine.

: Under the headline “Suspicion of N. Korean Hand in Sinking Mounts,” the Seoul daily Chosun Ilbo quotes military sources as citing a “60-70 percent chance” that the Cheonan was hit by a torpedo from a DPRK semi-submersible, rather than an old mine.

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