North Korea - South Korea

Chronology from Jul 2005 to Oct 2005

: A study by Hyundai Research Institute claims resolution of the nuclear issue would reap gains of some $55 billion for the DPRK and $115 billion for the ROK.

: Hyundai for the first time details its charges against ex-CEO Kim Yoon-kyu, accusing him of abusing corporate funds worth over $1 million.

: MOU says four Northern merchant ships will dock in two Southern ports next day, to collect some of the 500,000 tons of rice aid pledged earlier.

: ROK activists announce a conference on DPRK human rights, jointly with and funded by Freedom House of the US, to be held in Seoul on Dec. 8-11.

: ROK Vice Unification Minister Rhee Bong-jo says that a new joint office to handle crossborder business projects will open in the KIZ on Oct. 25.

: Vice Minister Rhee says Seoul will continue to send food aid to the North, but this cannot replace foreign food aid, which Pyongyang says it no longer needs.

: ROK invites the family of Chung Soon-taek – one of 29 unconverted DPRK spies who served long prison terms in the South, dying of cancer – to visit him. [Editor’s note: The South returned Chung’s body via Panmunjom Oct. 2.]

: The first inter-Korean consultative meeting on maritime transportation cooperation is held in Kaesong.

: ROK presidential panel, chaired by Pres. Roh, says Seoul should take the lead in resolving the North’s nuclear issue and developing the Six-Party Talks into a regional northeast Asian community and a “multilateral security-economy entity.”

: ROK Cabinet agrees to raise next year’s defense spending 9.8 percent to 22.8 trillion won ($22 billion). The semi-official news agency Yonhap cites the MND as saying this is “to beef up its war capability against North Korea.”

: Daily charter flights from Seoul to Pyongyang begin, organized by civic groups, for sightseeing and to view the North’s Arirang mass games spectacular. About 3,000 Southerners are expected to make the trip by mid-October, when Arirang finishes.

: Northern defector radio station in Seoul releases pictures of a female refugee being beaten at the China-DPRK border. Critics claim the shots were faked.

: Korea Resources Corp (Kores), an ROK parastatal, says it aims to open an office in Pyongyang this year to pursue joint venture projects in minerals.

: The South’s Research Council on Unification Affairs delivers a first batch of 900 bicycles for workers at the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

: Rodong Sinmun attacks the ROK’s main opposition Grand National Party (GNP) as “a wicked group of sycophantic traitors… blinded with flunkeyism,” and warns that if the GNP “is allowed to come to power” this will lead to nuclear war.

: The 5,000-strong Seoul Bar Association criticizes human rights abuses in North Korea at its first ever symposium on the topic. The ROK’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), hitherto silent on this subject, discusses it on Sept. 26.

: The Unification Ministry says 50,000 South Koreans (excluding tourists) visited the North in the first 8 months of 2005, as against 20,600 in the whole of 2004.

: The ROK Foreign Ministry (MOFAT) says that China has arrested 64 South Koreans since 2001 for abetting DPRK refugees. 15 remain in custody.

: Unification Minister Chung tells ROK National Assembly that energy aid to the North, to compensate if it dismantles nuclear programs, may cost $15 billion over 13 years, including $9.4 billion for direct electricity provision by Seoul.

: ROK civic groups announce plans for over 4,700 Southern tourists to visit Pyongyang to see the Arirang mass games (previously off limits) during Sept. 26 – Oct. 5. The first group flies into the Northern capital on Sept. 26.

: The six-party nuclear talks in Beijing ends with, at last and for the first time, a 6-point agreed statement of principles, including a pledge to meet again for a fifth round in early November.

: MOU reports that inter-Korean trade in the first eight months of 2005 rose 60 percent from the same period last year, up from $432 million to $691 million.

: Two five-member teams of ROK officials inspect two sites where Southern rice aid is being distributed.

: ROK’s Lotte Tours says it has been approached by the DPRK to take over the proposed new tours of Kaesong city from Hyundai Asan.

: The recessed fourth round of Six-Party Talks resumes in Beijing.

: The 16th round of inter-Korean Cabinet-level talks held in Pyongyang. A six-point press release contains little new. Much time is spent trying to mediate the DPRK’s row with Hyundai Asan over personnel changes in its tourism business.

: MOU publishes revisions to the ROK’s law on inter-Korean exchange and cooperation, effective Dec. 1. Their general gist is to facilitate contacts with the North.

: The heads of both Koreas’ Olympic committees, in Guangzhou for an OCA (Olympic Council of Asia) meeting, agree in principle to field a unified team for the 2006 Asian Games to be held in Doha, Qatar.

: The 100-strong New Seoul Opera Company performs a historical opera about King Kwanggaetoe of the Koguryo kingdom at Pyongyang’ Ponghwa Arts Theater.

: A second inter-Korean broadcasting discussion meeting at Mt. Kumgang sees 74 participants from the South and 30 from the North, with parallel sessions on programming and technical issues. They agree to continue exchanges and cooperation.

: MOU reports that since 1971 the two Koreas have held a cumulative total of 498 rounds of talks. Of the 139 since the June 2000 summit, 26 were political, 33 military (mainly in fact about trans-DMZ railways), 56 economic, and 24 humanitarian or athletic.

: A sudden surge of water down the Imjin river damages Southern fishing nets and other facilities. When Seoul protests, Pyongyang claims this was caused by overflows rather than discharging from its dams, of which it has agreed to give notice to the South.

: MOU rebuts charges from various critics that ROK food aid to the DPRK is not transparent, and so undermines UN World Food Program (WFP) monitoring.

: 20 DPRK athletes, with 124 teenage cheerleaders, visit for 16th Asian athletics championships held at Incheon. The cheerleaders give three performances.

: Over five years after it was first mooted, a ground-breaking ceremony for a separated family reunion center is held in Jopo town, Onjong-ri, Mt. Kumgang. It will have 13 stories and accommodate up 1,000 guests. Construction will take 20 months.

: The North suggests changing the venue of the 16th ministerial talks from Mt. Paekdu to Pyongyang, citing bad weather, which has delayed “pavement works” on the runway at Samjiyon Airport. The South accepts on Sept. 1.

: The 11th reunion of separated families is held at Mt. Kumgang. A total of 908 members of 198 families meet briefly over a three-day period, in two batches.

: Two Southern sand-carrying ships enter the Northern port of Haeju. These are the first ROK-flagged vessels to dock in the DPRK for commercial purposes.

: A first working-level consultative meeting on light industries and natural resources cooperation, held in Pyongyang, ends without agreement. The South says it will pursue holding a second round in September, but this has yet to take place.

: Southern pop singer Cho Yong-pil performs at Pyongyang’s Ryugyong Chung Ju-yung Gymnasium. The 2-hour concert is broadcast live on TV in both Koreas.

: The 6th inter-Korean Red Cross talks are held at Mt. Kumgang. For the first time the North agrees to discuss those “missing” (i.e., abducted, or POW retained) in the 1950-53 Korean War. No progress is made.

: 20 members of ROKs leftist Democratic Labor Party (DLP), led by leader Kim Hye-kyoung, visit Pyongyang. Their schedule includes joint discussions with the DPRK’s Social Democratic Party (SDP), a nominally independent front party.

: Hyundai Asan fires CEO Kim Yoon-kyu for alleged corruption. North Korea reacts by halving the firm’s daily quota of tourists to Mt. Kumgang from 1,200 to 600 from Aug. 29, and searching its chairperson, Ms Hyun Jeong-eun, on a visit.

: Hyundai Asan reaches an agreement to take three 500-strong pilot Southern tour groups to the DPRK’s Kaesong city on Aug. 26, Sept. 2, and Sept. 7.

: First ever inter-Korean agricultural cooperation meeting held in Kaesong. A detailed 7-point agreement envisages a wide range of aid and joint projects in the North’s farming and forestry, starting in 2006. No date is fixed for a second meeting.

: MOU reports that inspections of the two new trans-DMZ railways took place as scheduled this week. The western Kyonggi line is almost ready, but the eastern Donghae line needs more work. Signals are behind schedule.

: DPRK delegates lunch at the Blue House with ROK Pres. Roh Moo-hyun, before flying back to Pyongyang.

: Northern delegates tour the ROK National Assembly and visit former ROK Pres. Kim Dae-jung in the hospital, inviting him to revisit the DPRK as he did in 2000. The North wins the inter-Korean women’s soccer match, 2-0.

: Further joint events held on Liberation Day, including a visit to a prison where patriots were jailed and tortured during Japanese occupation before 1945.

: First-ever pilot video reunion of separated kin briefly links 40 families in Pyongyang with relatives in Seoul, Pusan, Taegu, Inchon, Suwon, Taejon, and Kwangju.

: 182 North Koreans, led by Korean Workers’ Party (KWP) Secretary Kim Ki-nam, fly into Seoul. The 17-strong DPRK government delegation pays respects at the ROK national cemetery. Other events include a peace march and a men’s soccer match, which the South wins 3-0.

: The South announces schedule for joint Aug. 15 Grand National Festival, to be held in Seoul Aug. 14-17 with 182 DPRK participants. Events are to include soccer matches, a concert, a “grand unification march” and other festivities.

: ROK watchmaker Romanson holds a completion ceremony for its factory in the KIZ. “Unification watches” are exchanged.

: ROK Defense Ministry (MND) says both Koreas have set up and tested their first ever inter-military hotline (both telephone and fax), as agreed earlier.

: Fifth round of working-level contact for maritime cooperation, held at Munsan, establishes procedures (including a hotline) for DPRK merchant ships to use the Cheju Strait between the ROK province of Cheju and the mainland. On Aug. 12 the hotline opens and the first Northern ships transit the strait, three days ahead of schedule.

: After almost a fortnight failing to agree even a statement of principles, the Six-Party Talks recess for consultations. They plan to reconvene at the end of August.

: ROK Unification Ministry (MOU) reports that as of July 26 4,000 North and 400 South Koreans are working at the Kaesong industrial complex. Four firms have completed their factories, with a further eight expected to do so in August.

: Nine economic agreements (road, rail and marine transport, customs, quarantine, entry, and dispute arbitrations) are formally put into effect by an exchange of documents at Panmunjom.

: ROK’s Korea Electric Power Corp (Kepco) holds an opening ceremony for its branch in the Kaesong industrial zone, to which Kepco is supplying electricity.

: The 5th working-level consultative meeting on road and railway reconnection reaches 6-point agreement in Kaesong. After inspections in August and security checks, opening ceremonies for two relinked railways will be held “around late October.”

: A fourth round of Six-Party Talks – both Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia – on the North Korean nuclear issue, the first in over a year, opens in Beijing.

: Delivery of the South’s rice aid begins. 100,000 tons is to be sent overland, on 100 28-ton trucks crossing the border four times a week until November. The remaining 400,000 tons will go by ship to five Northern ports, commencing July 30.

: 67 DPRK soccer players arrive in the ROK for the second East Asian soccer tournament (the two Koreas, China, and Japan).

: Meeting in Kaesong, the two Koreas’ soccer associations reach an 11-point agreement to hold inter-Korean soccer matches in Seoul on Aug. 14 and 16.

: A working-level consultative meeting for fisheries cooperation agrees to propose a joint fishing zone in the West (Yellow) Sea, security authorities permitting.

: Third working-level meeting for inter-Korean general-level military talks, held at Panmunjom, agrees to resume removal of propaganda at the DMZ, begun last year, and “complete the destruction job by Aug. 13.” A military hotline will open Aug. 10.

: Inter-Korean exchange and cooperation promotion committee, chaired by Unification Minister Chung Dong-young, confirms that the South will send the North 500,000 tons of rice costing $155 million, among other items.

: Hyun Jeong-eun, chairperson of the Hyundai group, meets Kim Jong-il and gains permission to open new Southern tourist routes to Kaesong city and Mt. Paekdu.

: ROK Red Cross sends 3,000 emergency aid kits (blankets, clothing, soap etc.) for flood victims to its Northern counterpart, delivered by train to Kaesong.

: Working-level talks held in Kaesong on a pilot plan to let separated families see each other by video link. To this end, a crossborder fiber optic cable linking Kaesong to Munsan in the South is laid on July 18.

: The 10th meeting of the Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Promotion Committee (ECPC) is held in Seoul. The South agrees to supply 500,000 tons of rice, nominally on a loan basis.

: The South delivers 2,000 tons of fertilizer aid by rail to Kaesong daily. The remaining 130,000 tons, recently agreed to be sent, is being conveyed by sea.

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