North Korea - South Korea

Chronology from Jul 2003 to Oct 2003

: 300 members of ROK civic organizations fly directly to Pyongyang for a five-day celebration of National Foundation Day, commemorating the mythical founding of Korea in 2033 BCE by Tangun – whose grave North Korea claims to have found, and has rebuilt.

: Seoul announces, and starts implementing, procedures for verifying the origin of goods imported from North Korea, as agreed at an earlier meeting.

: Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun leaves for the U.S., to speak on the South’s North Korea policy to business, academic, and ethnic Korean audiences. Though his itinerary includes Washington, he is not scheduled to meet any member of the Bush administration.

: A Seoul court convicts six former senior officials – including ex-unification minister Lim Dong-won, architect of the Sunshine Policy – of illicit payments to North Korea before the 2000 North-South summit, but suspends jail sentences as this was “an act of state.”

: ROK unification minister announces that 1,000-member Southern delegation will travel overland by bus to Pyongyang on Oct. 6, using the Kyongui corridor across the DMZ, for the opening of the Chung Ju-yung Gymnasium built by Hyundai.

: An eighth round of family reunions is held at Mt. Kumgang. 556 elderly South Koreans are briefly reunited, after half a century, with 346 of their Northern kin.

: South Korea reports that inter-Korean trade during January-August rose 45 percent over the same period last year, to $406 million. Southern exports (mainly aid goods) totaled $245 million, while Northern exports (mostly commercial) reached $161 million.

: South’s unification minister says three 5-person teams of ROK inspectors will visit three Northern ports – Nampo, Heungnam, and Chongjin – later in September, as agreed at an earlier meeting, to check on the distribution of 400,000 tons of rice aid.

: Eighth North-South military working talks, held at Panmunjom, agree to start using the almost finished new roads in the Kyongui and Donghae trans-DMZ corridors, rather than the temporary tracks used hitherto; and to set up a hotline at Donghae (on the east coast).

: 114 Southern tourists fly directly from Seoul to Pyongyang on a DPRK Air Koryo plane for a five-day visit, in the first ever regular tourist trip between the two capitals. The organizers, another Pyonghwa group company, plan several further tours this year.

: Pyonghwa Motors, an affiliate of the Unification Church, which assembles Fiat cars in Nampo, is reported to have got permission to erect Pyongyang’s first commercial billboards to advertise their wares – provided they do not appear to be selling anything.

: The DPRK Red Cross requests 100,000 tons of fertilizer from its counterpart in the South. The ROK government says it will consult the National Assembly before deciding.

: A scheduled meeting at Mt. Kumgang to discuss the construction of a planned permanent center for family reunions is canceled.

: The South says it expects to open two immigration offices near the DMZ for the new east and west corridors, to handle cross-border personnel and economic exchanges.

: Ex-KWP secretary Hwang Jang-yop, the highest-ranking DPRK official ever to defect to South Korea, is finally allowed to travel to the U.S., where he has longstanding invitations from conservative groups. The previous Kim Dae-jung government would not let him go, for fear of damaging North-South ties. As of Oct. 2 he had yet to make the trip.

:  Hyundai Asan resumes overland tours to Mt. Kumgang, suspended soon after they began in February. 15 buses bring 328 Southern tourists to the Northern resort, while 106 go by boat.

: The Taegu Universiade closes. Northern and Southern athletes jointly wave the Peninsula’s peace flag in the closing ceremony.

: ROK government asks the National Assembly for a $17 million subsidy to support Hyundai’s Mt. Kumgang tours.

: The DPRK cheering squad reappears at the Taegu Universiade, after three days of absence following the clash between human rights activists and DPRK reporters.

: The Korea People’s Army fires a shot at a South Korean border post in the DMZ. 80 minutes after the incident the South receives a phone message saying it was an accident.

: Six-party talks between the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia, and the U.S. on the North Korean nuclear issue are held in Beijing. They end without a joint statement, or even an agreement to meet again.

: Upon his return from Pyongyang, a South Korean lawmaker says the DPRK has been constructing a massive tourism complex at Mount Paekdu on its border with China.

: The sixth meeting of the South-North Economic Cooperation Promotion Committee is held in Seoul. A 9-point agreement addresses, inter alia: the institutional framework for cooperation, relinking cross-border railways and roads, building the Kaesong industrial zone, and exchanging economic study group visits.

: A 256-member Southern delegation from Cheju, led by its governor, arrives in Pyongyang. The island province has donated tangerines and carrots to the DPRK in recent years.  The group is allowed a rare trip to Mt. Paekdu, a sacred mountain on the DPRK-China border. Separately, a delegation from Pusan, South Korea’s second city, also visits the North.

: DPRK “reporters” assault peaceful anti-North protesters outside the Taegu Universiade media center. The German activist Dr. Norbert Vollertsen is injured. Pyongyang threatens to pull out of the games if Seoul does not take action to stop such demonstrations.

: The third meeting of a task force on constructing a permanent reunion center for separated families at Mt. Kumgang is held at the Northern resort.

: A sixth inter-Korean working-level contact on connection of trans-border railways and roads is held at Kaesong. Southern delegates commute daily across the DMZ. A 6-point agreement covers signals, telecoms and power systems. The South will design these systems, and is to send plans, materials and engineers to the North in the coming months.

: Four DPRK airplanes fly into the ROK’s Kimhae airport carrying 221 athletes and officials led by Chang Ung, a member of the International Olympic Committee; plus 302 supporters, mainly consisting of young female cheerleaders and an all-women brass band.

: The four countersigned economic agreements, originally drawn up in 2000, are finally exchanged at Panmunjom. They cover protection of investment, elimination of double taxation, settlement of commercial disputes, and clearance of payments.

: North and South Korea reportedly agree in principle to field a unified team at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. If true, this will be the first time ever. Despite marching together at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, they competed separately; and likewise in Taegu.

: Scholars from both Koreas meet in Pyongyang to discuss a weighty matter: why the English spelling was changed from ‘Corea’ to ‘Korea’, allegedly during the Japanese colonial era (1910-1945). A dastardly plot is suspected to give Japan alphabetical precedence.

: ROK president Roh Moo-hyun expresses regret over a recent protest in Seoul, where the DPRK flag and a portrait of leader Kim Jong-il were burned. The opposition Grand National Party (GNP) criticizes this apology, but after the North agrees to reverse its boycott of the Taegu Universiade.

: After initially saying their flight (due Aug. 17) was delayed for technical reasons, DPRK TV reports that its 500-member party will not attend the Taegu Universiade, claiming that South Korea has become dangerous because of anti-North demonstrations.

: The ROK Navy fires warning shots at a DPRK ship that briefly crossed the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the long-established West Sea boundary disputed by the North.

: The planned exchange of four ratified inter-Korean economic agreements at Panmunjom is canceled, as the Northern delegation fails to appear.

: A South Korean chartered plane flies 330 ROK civic leaders directly to Pyongyang for joint celebrations to mark Liberation Day (from Japanese rule in 1945).

: South Korea announces that the DPRK flag, technically illegal in the ROK, will be allowed to be flown during the Taegu Universiade.

: Hyundai’s cruise tours to Mt. Kumgang resume, after a lengthy suspension due to North Korea’s draconian anti-SARS quarantine.

: Family members, Hyundai executives, and DPRK officials attend a memorial service for Chung Mong-hun at Mt. Kumgang. The ROK delegation crosses the DMZ by bus. Kim Jong-il sends a message of condolence.

: A popular long-running amateur song contest program of the ROK’s KBS TV is held in Pyongyang for the first time, as a co-production with the North’s Korean Central TV, with 30 DPRK entrants. It is broadcast simultaneously in North and South on Aug. 15.

: Hyundai Asan president Kim Yoon-kyu says that Samsung, South Korea’s largest chaebol (conglomerate), plans to establish an electronics complex in the Kaesong industrial zone. Samsung immediately denies any plans to invest in the DPRK.

: South Korea accepts a Northern proposal to postpone ratification of the four economic agreements due to be exchanged today, in the light of Chung Mong-hun’s death.

: North Korea suspends plans to resume Hyundai’s Mt. Kumgang tours, as a gesture of mourning following the death of Chung Mong-hun.

: Chung Mong-hun’s elder brother Chung Mong-koo, head of Hyundai Motor, disavows any plans to pursue economic projects in the DPRK as not commercially viable. He calls on the ROK government, rather than private firms, to spearhead business in the North.

: The ROK Presidential Committee on the Northeast Asian Business Hub says it will inspect DPRK railways next year, to ensure they are suitable for inter-Korean traffic.

: Chung Mong-hun, chairman of the Hyundai group, commits suicide. He faced charges regarding illicit payments to North Korea, where Hyundai’s projects have lost money.

: A South Korean ship heads North with 3,000 tons of rice: a first consignment of 400,000 tons pledged by Seoul, and the first official aid under Roh Moo-hyun’s presidency.

July 4, 2003: Kim Jin-ho, president of the ROK parastatal Koland, puts the price of leasing land in the Kaesong industrial zone at between 100,000 won ($84.6) and 200,000 won per pyeong (3.3 square meters), plus development costs of around 390,000 won per pyeong.

July 4, 2003: South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) reverts to defining the DPRK as the ROK’s “main enemy.” This designation was banned under the Kim Dae-jung administration (1998-2003), leading to suspension of the MND’s annual defense white paper.

July 9-12, 2003: The 11th inter-Korean ministerial meeting held in Seoul, led by Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun (ROK) and senior Cabinet councillor Kim Ryong-song (DPRK). It ends with a 6-point agreement, mostly reiterating earlier pledges and plans.

July 15, 2003: South Korea’s National Assembly passes bill for a special prosecutor to further probe clandestine remittances to North Korean before the 2000 summit.

July 17, 2003: Korean People’s Army (KPA) soldiers fire on an ROK guard post at the DMZ, which returns the fire. The incident does not escalate. No explanation or apology is offered.

July 28, 2003: Some 103 officials and supporters of Good Neighbors, a South Korean charity, fly directly from Seoul to Pyongyang to visit sites and projects aided by their organization.

July 29, 2003: About 120 members of a radical ROK teachers’ union fly to Pyongyang for five days of meetings with DPRK educationalists, the first ever such event. On the same plane are civic activists, going to plan joint celebrations for Liberation Day (from Japan in 1945) on Aug 15.

July 29, 2003: Four days of working-level inter-Korean economic talks begin in Kaesong. The southern team commutes daily across the DMZ from Seoul, via the Kyongui corridor.

July 30, 2003: The DPRK says that the “Voice of National Salvation” radio, hitherto claimed to be an underground station within South Korea, will cease broadcasting on Aug. 1.  It urges the ROK to discontinue Southern broadcasts targeted at the North.

July 30, 2003: A bipartisan group of 22 ROK lawmakers submits a resolution urging the signing of a Korean peace treaty, and opposing any new war on the Peninsula.

July 31, 2003: The two Koreas agree to implement four bilateral economic agreements (first drawn up in Dec. 2000) by exchanging ratified documents on Aug. 6. These cover investment protection, double taxation, dispute settlement, and payment clearance. Other agreements are made to confirm the origin of products, and to designate settlement banks for bilateral trade.

: North Korea agrees to take part in the Universiade (world student games) to be held in August in Daegu, ROK is the second time the DPRK has participated in an international sports meeting in South Korea, the first being last year’s Asian Games in Pusan.

: Third round of working meetings on linking crossborder railways and roads is held at Munsan, ROK. DPRK participants commute daily across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). A 5-point agreement and 6-point supplement set detailed tasks, including Southern inspections of progress North of the DMZ on July 15-17 (west coast) and July 22-24 (east).

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