North Korea - South Korea

Chronology from May 2014 to Aug 2014

: North Korea’s Olympic Committee repeats its claim that the South is being disingenuous on the cheerleader issue.

: Daum, a leading South Korean web portal, publishes high-resolution views and maps of almost all North Korea except areas near the DMZ. For security reasons the very latest data available to the ROK government is not used. Daum’s product is described as far more comprehensive in its coverage than Google Maps, though the latter is more up to date.

: MOU spokesman Lim Byeong-cheol says, “It’s very regrettable that North Korea unilaterally announced plans not to send cheerleaders [to the Incheon Asian Games], making a distorted claim that we do not want their participation.”

: JoongAng Ilbo reports a survey of 116,000 school pupils. 1 in 4 view North Korea as a foe, and 1 in 5 see unification as unnecessary (53.5 percent disagree).

: ROK Supreme Court upholds an appeal court ruling acquitting Park Jong-geun, 26, of violating the NSL by retweeting North Korean materials; accepting his defense that his purpose had been to ridicule the DPRK. His original trial in Suwon in 2012 had found him guilty and imposed a 10-month jail term, suspended for two years.

: Son Kwang Ho, vice-chairman of the DPRK National Olympic Committee, tells the North’s Korean Central Television (KCTV) that no cheerleading squad will be sent to the Incheon Asiad after all. Blaming the South for calling the cheerleaders subversives and taking issue with the group’s size and cost, he says Seoul was informed of this decision last week. MOU belatedly confirms that the North did indeed convey that message.

: Yoo Ki-june, an influential lawmaker of the South’s ruling Saenuri Party who chairs the ROK National Assembly’s foreign affairs committee, urges the lifting of sanctions against North Korea and the resumption of tourism to the North’s Mount Kumgang resort “for reduction of tension and dialogue between the two Koreas.”

: The South sends a letter to the North regarding its Asiad participation. This is not published, but reportedly its contents include permission for the DPRK team to arrive by direct flight from Pyongyang, and offers of administrative and other support.

: The Korean Broadcasters Association (KBA), whose council comprises the ROK’s three major broadcasters (KBS, MBC and SBS), says it will offer North Korea rights to broadcast the Asian Games for free “in accordance with humanitarianism and sports spirit.”

: JoongAng Ilbo cites MOU as saying that currently less than 3 percent of KIC output is exported beyond the peninsula. In 2010 the proportion was 11.3 percent.

: MOU says it will start building a genetic database of families separated by the Korean War. It will also start filming 10-minute family messages to be sent to relatives in the North. Pyongyang is not known to have agreed to such messages.

: David Cohen, who as US Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence oversees sanctions against North Korea, visits Seoul for consultations.

: Rodong Sinmun thunders: “We have already declared solemnly that all the aggressor forces to be involved in the UFG, military bases in south Korea and overseas, White House, Pentagon, Chongwadae and other bases of aggression and provocation would become the targets of the strategic and tactical rockets and other high-performance ultra-modern ultra-precision fire strike means of the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK.”

: Ryang Song Ho, dean of Pyongyang College of Physical Education, flies into Incheon International Airport heading an eight-strong DPRK delegation, which takes part in the Asiad group draw next day. Speaking at a conference in Incheon, Ryang praises Kim Jong Un for building “thousands of multifunctional sports facilities and sports parks” and other “facilities which embody the civilisation of the new era” like the new Masikryong ski resort.

: Presenting MOU’s 2014 policy plan to the National Assembly’s diplomatic affairs committee, ROK Unification Minister Ryoo reiterates that “it is difficult to imagine the government unilaterally lifting” sanctions against North Korea. “If (Pyongyang) needs the May 24 sanctions to be removed, it should come to the negotiating table and discuss it there.” He also calls on the North to accept the South’s offer of high-level talks.

: Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG), the annual US-ROK military exercise, begins. 50,000 ROK and 30,000 US forces participate, plus troops from 10 other nations. North Korea as usual denounces this as an invasion plan and threatens pre-emptive strikes.

: Kim Jong Un sends a wreath and telegram on the fourth anniversary of the death of Kim Dae-jung. This is delivered to Kim’s son in Kaesong by Kim Yang Gon, who as head of the United Front Department of the WPK is Pyongyang’s top point man on the South.

: In a rare privilege, both Koreas allow 32 ethnic Koreans from countries of the former Soviet Union to drive their convoy of five SUVs across the DMZ from North to South. The 10,000 mile journey to mark 150 years of Korean emigration to Russia began in Moscow on July 7; they entered the DPRK via Rajin on Aug. 8. Their odyssey ends with participation in a Mass for peace and reconciliation in Seoul, celebrated by Pope Francis. Vasily Cho, the group’s leader, says they hope that this venture will help improve inter-Korean relations.

: In her Liberation Day  speech, ROK President Park offers the North a range of cooperative projects. Some reprise offers made in her Dresden Declaration in March.

: In an unscripted comment, Pope Francis during a week-long visit to South Korea tells a questioner in Seoul: “Think of your brothers in the North. They speak the same language as you, and when in a family the same language is spoken, there is a human hope.”

: In a statement ahead of Liberation Day (from Japan in 1945: a holiday in both Koreas), the North’s CPRK urges the South to end hostile acts, terminate US “interference,” and “take practical steps to implement the already agreed north-south agreements.”

: Incheon Asiad organisers say the DPRK has duly submitted the names of 150 athletes in 14 sports plus 202 coaches, referees, and staff, confirming its participation despite July’s row and no subsequent meetings with the South. There is no mention of cheerleaders.

: A North Korean father and son swim to the South’s Gyodong Island in the West/Yellow Sea, just south of the NLL and 1.5 miles from the DPRK coast. Though rare, this is the third successive year that defectors have succeeded in escaping by swimming.

: South Korea proposes high-level talks at Panmunjom on Aug. 19. Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae says: “We want to discuss family reunions and other pending inter-Korean issues in a comprehensive manner.” He adds that the North may raise any agenda it wishes, including the South’s “May 24” sanctions imposed in 2010. No reply is received by Aug. 19, or indeed thereafter.

: The ROK PCUP holds its first meeting. Critics complain that it only discusses “hot air” abstract topics, not immediate issues such as whether to ease sanctions.

: Noting that “Marshal Kim Jong Un personally guided a match for examining the men’s football of the National Sports Team to take part in the 17th Asian Games,” CPRK urges South Korea not to miss this opportunity to improve North-South relations.”

: A 38-strong team from the three companies – KoRail, Posco and Hyundai Merchant Marine – plus ROK government officials returns from a week-long site visit, their second, to the DPRK’s Rajin port. They report that Pyongyang is “pleased” that this consortium may invest in Rajin by buying half of Russian Railways’ 70 percent stake in a joint venture with North Korea to modernize rail and port facilities.

: North and South hold talks at Panmunjom on details of DPRK participation in the Asiad. Next day KCNA accuses Seoul of “provocations” on various issues, including cheerleaders, and threatens to “fundamentally reexamine its participation in the games.”

: South Korea formally launches its new Presidential Committee for Unification Preparation (PCUP). Its 50 members comprise 30 private sector experts, two lawmakers, 11 government officials and six heads of state research institutes. President Park will chair it.

: North Korea says that it will send cheerleaders as well as athletes to the Incheon Asiad, to “melt the frozen North-South relations with the heat of national reconciliation.”

: KCNA quotes the General Association of Koreans in China as marking the anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 by denouncing “the Park Geun Hye group of traitors [as] the sycophant and quisling without an equal in the world”.

: North Korea’s CPRK denounces UN-OHCHR’s plan to open an office in Seoul monitoring North Korean human rights as “a hideous politically-motivated provocation” and “a serious hostile act.” CPRK warns: “We will strongly react against it. Needless to say, the ‘office’ and its staff are not excepted from being targets of this action.” Earlier, on June 4, Rodong Sinmun accused the South of allowing this office in order to “worsen confrontation between the brother countries and achieve its ambition of forcible reunification.”

: MOU suggests that Hwang Pyong So (see May 1) may now be a vice-chairman of the WPK’s powerful Central Military Commission (CMC). It does not cite its evidence.

: USFK Commander Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti tells a Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA, MND’s think-tank) forum that the US is considering deploying a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense (MD) battery in South Korea so as to counter the North’s growing missile threats, and that he has personally recommended this.

: South Korea returns a Northern fisherman via Panmunjom, but not his two colleagues who asked to remain in the South. Pyongyang had demanded all three back. Their boat was found adrift with engine trouble near Ulleung-do in the East Sea three days earlier.

: President Park appoints Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin as her national security adviser, replacing Kim Jang-soo who resigned May 22. Kim KJ’s successor at MND is ex-JCS Chairman Han Min-koo. Pyongyang media denounce Kim as a “special-class criminal … hooligan … diehard pro-US lackey … worst traitor … special-class stooge of the US … wicked confrontation maniac” and more.

: Yonhap quotes “military sources” as saying that North Korea has been issuing fishing rights to Chinese vessels in the West Sea which include waters that are actually South Korea’s. China has been notified, and warned not to cross the Northern Limit Line (NLL).

: In Seoul, President Park meets and thanks Justice Michael Kirby, the retired Australian judge who chaired the UN inquiry on DPRK human rights abuses.

: South Korea’s Foreign Ministry (MOFA) says it has agreed to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) opening a field office in South Korea to monitor human rights abuses in North Korea.

: A day after allocating 632 million won (US$619,000) for research on the idea of a peace park in the DMZ, MOU says it will ask researchers to produce reports on how to accomplish this project – even though North Korea has rejected it.

: Rodong Sinmun avers that “Nothing will be resolved in inter-Korean relations as long as Park [Geun-hye] remains [in power],” and demands an end to her rule.

: KCNA names Kim Yong Hun as minister of physical culture and sports in place of Ri Jong Mu, who has served since 2012. Kim is close to leader Kim Jong Un.

: KCNA quotes a KPA call for the US to stop “hostile acts seriously rattling the nerves of the other side.” This refers to a steel tower erected at Panmunjom for surveillance purposes. USFK retorts that it had notified the North, which already has its own similar tower.

: Yonhap headlines a meeting in Seoul of the ROK and PRC foreign ministers as “S. Korea, China agree to deter N. Korea’s nuke ambitions.” The actual report has China’s Wang Yi calling for resumption of the Six-Party Talks.

: KCNA quotes the ‘Federation of Korean Economic Workers in China’ on Park Geun-hye: “Such prostitute, special-class traitor has to be eliminated at an early date … it is not possible to expect anything as long as the venomous serpent remains in Chongwadae.”

: Yonhap quotes ‘ROK officials’ as saying that representatives of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea and Archdiocese of Seoul met members of the DPRK Catholic Church in Shenyang, China, on May 18-19, inviting them to attend a mass to be celebrated by Pope Francis in Seoul in August. In the event no Northern Catholics come South for this.

: KCNA reports that the DPRK Olympic Committee has officially informed the Olympic Council of Asia that North Korea will participate in the 17th Asian Games (Asiad) in Incheon, ROK between Sept. 19 and Oct. 4. South Korea welcomes the news.

: Talking to reporters in Seoul after her first visit to North Korea on May 19-21, Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the UN World Food Program, says WFP’s nutrition program for DPRK children and pregnant women stands at a “very crucial juncture.” WFP aid to North Korea fell from $86.94 million in 2012 to $26.56 million in 2013.

: South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) say North Korea fired two artillery rounds toward an ROK warship in the West (Yellow) Sea, hence the South returned fire. The North denies this. Each side threatens “merciless punishment” if the other provokes it.

: Citing currently negative inter-Korean relations, Seoul rejects Pyongyang’s proposal that they jointly mark the anniversary of the first North-South summit in June.

: At a conference in Shanghai, ROK Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae warns the DPRK not to conduct a fresh unclear test, but promises support should it opt to disarm.

: ROK’s Cardinal Andres Yeom Soo-jung visits the joint venture Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC): the first ever visit to North Korea by a Roman Catholic cardinal.

: KCNA report, headlined “KPA Will Wipe out Park Geun Hye-led Military Hooligans to Last One: Command of Southwestern Front of KPA,” accuses the ROK Navy of “firing at random at the warships of the Korean People’s Army which were on regular guard duty in the southwestern waters of the DPRK side and peaceable Chinese fishing boats.”

: DPRK’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) denounces ROK President Park Geun-hye’s apology for April’s Sewol ferry disaster. CPRK calls the accident “an unprecedented deliberate murder and a massacre perpetrated by … the Park group.”

: South Korea’s Unification Ministry (MOU) reveals that in March it fined a businessman 1 million won ($977) for an unauthorized meeting with North Koreans in China last December. They discussed possible Southern participation in a project to build a high-speed railway and parallel highway the length of the DPRK, from Sinuiju to Kaesong.

: MND spokesman Kim Min-seok tells a press briefing on Seoul: “The North is an abnormal state and should vanish as soon as possible.” The National Defence Commission (NDC), the DPRK’s topmost executive organ, ripostes next day: “All [our] service personnel and people … are strongly calling for wiping the Park group out of this land.”

: South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin says the North has made all its preparations for a fourth nuclear test, to be carried out “whenever it makes a decision.” In the event no such test takes place during the ensuing four months.

: WPK daily paper Rodong Sinmun condemns Park Geun-hye’s “Doctrine of Gaining Great Opportunity of Unification” (presumably this is bonanza, daebak) as a “strange watchword … fully reflect[ing] the base and ugly nature of philistinism [and] mammonism.”

: ROK Defense Ministry (MND) says that after restoring the geographical positioning system (GPS) coordinates stored in the three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) found near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in March and April, it now has the “smoking gun” that proves that they were all launched from the DPRK.

: Poll taken late last year, but only published now, finds almost half (44.3 percent) of South Koreans unwilling to pay a cent toward unification – 31.9 percent would fork out $50 a year, and 11.7 percent up to $100. Only 1.2 percent would contribute over $1,000.

: Chairing a UN Security Council debate on weapons of mass destruction, ROK Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Paik Ji-ah cuts off the microphone of DPRK Deputy Ambassador Ri Tong Il after he ignores two warnings and extends his allotted four minutes to 10.

:  KCNA commentary on April 16 Sewol ferry disaster, in which 304 died, is headlined, “Park Geun Hye Is Wholly to Blame for Sinking of Ferry.” It calls her “a depraved old lady who has neither human ethics nor conscience and the worst traitor and sycophant.”

: KCNA issues a commentary headlined: “Park Geun Hye Is Wholly to Blame for Sinking of Ferry.” Inter alia this calls her “a depraved old lady who has neither human ethics nor conscience and the worst traitor and sycophant.”

: Rodong Sinmun thunders: “The [South Korean] puppet authorities’ moves to exchange military information with Japan are an unpardonable treacherous crime stunning the world in their danger, point of time and method.” Similarly, on May 7 a KCNA commentary, as its own headline puts it, “Assails [the] Criminal Nexus Among S. Korea, U.S., Japan.”

: KCNA again insults ROK President Park Geun-hye: “All Koreans are spitting on her as she is resorting to whorish and disgusting political prostitution only after leaving her soul or chastity violated at such old age of over 60.” It also refers to “her American master reminiscent of a wicked black monkey”. (Even more blatant and disgusting racism against President Obama appears at length in another KCNA article, published in Korean only.)

: KCNA again insults President Park: “All Koreans are spitting on her as she is resorting to whorish and disgusting political prostitution only after leaving her soul or chastity violated at such old age of over 60.” It also refers to “her American master reminiscent of a wicked black monkey”. (Even more blatant and disgusting racism against President Obama appears at length in another KCNA article, published in Korean only.)

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