North Korea - South Korea

Chronology from Jul 2010 to Oct 2010

: The Koreas hold their first direct military talks (at colonel level) in two years, at Panmunjom. They founder on the wreck of the Cheonan. The South insists on an apology, while the North still demands to send its own inspectors to examine the wreckage. [Ed. Note: Our apologies for incorrectly reporting them as occurring on Oct. 1 in our last issue.]

: DPRK media show Kim Jong-un’s image for the first time, briefly and as part of group shots. He would appear to have given up basketball, the passion of his youth.

: Korea International Trade Association (KITA), a private sector body based in Seoul, reports soaring first half inter-Korean trade. In January-June South Korean exports to the North were up 63 percent year-on-year to $430 million, while imports rose 43 percent to $550 million. In the same period the DPRK’s $1.28 billion worth of trade with China as usual exceeded the inter-Korean trade total of $980 million.

: At the long-awaited WPK conference Kim Jong-un is named as a member of the WPK Central Committee and (crucially) as joint vice chairman of its Central Military Commission (CMC).

: On the eve of a long-awaited Party meeting, Kim Jong-il’s hitherto unseen and unmentioned third son and heir Kim Jong-un is named a 4-star general at age 27 (approx). His aunt Kim Kyong-hui, a light industry specialist, is similarly promoted.

: MOU says that the South’s rice aid will go by ship from Gunsan to Sinuiju on Oct. 25. Cement, instant noodles (3 million packs), medical aid and more will follow.

: Three key DPRK diplomats are promoted. First Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok-ju becomes one of several vice-premiers. He is replaced by Kim Kye-gwan, North Korea’s chief delegate to the Six Party Talks. Ri Yong-ho, Kim’s deputy – not to be confused with the Chief of the KPA General Staff of the same name – becomes a vice foreign minister.

: KCNA declares that the overdue Party conference will be held on Sept. 28.

: Rodong Sinmun attacks upcoming planned joint US-ROK submarine drills. These had been due on Sept. 5-9, but were postponed because of a typhoon.

: A military source tells Yonhap that North Korea has deployed an extra 200 240mm multi-rocket launchers along the DMZ over the past year. These now total 5,300.

: At talks in Kaesong, the two Koreas’ Red Crosses agree to hold reunions of separated families at Mount Kumgang during Oct. 21-27.

: KPA and UNC colonels hold a fifth round of talks at Panmunjom.

: Three Southern NGOs announce plans to send a total of 530 tons of flour as emergency aid overland to North Korea on Sept. 16, and duly do so.

: An ROK official says Seoul will soon ease the cap on the number of South Koreans allowed to stay overnight at the KIZ, from 600 to 900, as requested by Southern companies invested in the joint venture zone.

: MOU says that North Korea has agreed to the South’s suggestion of talks towards family reunions, to be held in Kaesong on Sept. 17. It has also accepted the ROK Red Cross’s revised aid package, to include 5,000 tons of rice and 10,000 tons of cement.

: The ROK Defense Ministry (MND) releases the full investigative report into the Cheonan’s sinking.

: On a visit to Moscow, President Lee says that he is open to the idea of a second joint zone like the KIZ, depending on Pyongyang’s attitude. He also says that better inter-Korean ties “may or may not come quickly,” and that Kim Jong-un “is not my counterpart.”

: In a speech marking the 62nd anniversary of the founding of the DPRK, Kim Yong-nam, its titular head of state, calls for better ties between the two Koreas based on the spirit of the two previous inter-Korean summits.

: North Korea releases the Southern squid boat Daeseung 55 and its crew of seven on humanitarian grounds. They sail back to Sokcho port.

: MOU says that 155 out of 713 ROK companies trading with the DPRK in the past year have applied for low-interest zones to compensate for Seoul’s ban on trade. So far 66 firms have been lent a total of $14.8 million.

: Rodong Sinmun attacks President Lee’s proposed unification tax as an “intolerable politically motivated provocation” against the North.

: North and South Hamgyong and Kangwon provinces, plus Rason special city, hold Party meetings to choose delegates to the upcoming WPK Conference. Similar local-level meetings follow in other cities and provinces.

: South Korea’s Red Cross offers aid worth 10 billion won ($8.4 million) – medical kits, food and emergency supplies – to help North Korea after its recent floods.

: North Korea condemns the South for blocking access to its websites: “The traitor’s group is trying in vain to shut the eyes and ears of the South Korean people with the fascist National Security Law, running counter to the era of information.”

: Rodong Sinmun criticises upcoming US-ROK anti-submarine drills in the West (Yellow) Sea: “Our military and people are prepared with combat readiness to crush even thousands of foes in a single blow.”

: A nine-strong pan-religious ROK delegation, representing five major faiths, crosses the border in 12 trucks to deliver 300 tons of flour worth $209,000 to the North.

: Kim Jong-il makes a sudden trip to China, his second in four months. He visits several cities in the northeast, meeting President Hu Jintao in Changchun.

: Yonhap reports that North Korea’s Facebook page has been deleted, under company rules which forbid platform access to operators in countries under US embargo.

: ROK data show that inter-Korean trade in July rose 32 percent over June, totaling $162 million.

: Rev. Han Sang-ryeol returns to South Korea via Panmunjom, after over two months in the North. He is at once arrested for visiting North Korea without authorization.

: Eleven days after seizing the Daeseung 55, North Korea confirms that it is holding the South’s fishing vessel, which it says intruded into DPRK waters.

: In the first such trip permitted by Seoul in the three months since it brought in sanctions over the Cheonan, five South Koreans, including a doctor, cross the border to deliver anti-malaria kits worth $340,000 to Kaesong city.

: On the eve of the regular annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) joint US-ROK war games, KCNA quotes the KPA General Staff as warning “Our military’s reaction will be the worst punishment anyone has ever experienced … our military and people will wield the iron hammer of a merciless response.”

: In his Liberation Day speech, President Lee proposes a three-stage plan – first a peace community, then an economic community, and finally a national community – for reunification, plus a new tax to pay for it.

: North Korea launches a Twitter account. The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) blocks access to it, while MOU warns that South Korean netizens seeking to reply or ‘retweet’ risk punishment.

: Yonhap reports that the DPRK website Uriminzokkiri has put up 10 video clips on YouTube since registering on July 14. It remains illegal in South Korea to view this or any other DPRK media or website. By Aug. 18 total DPRK clips posted exceed 100.

: A fourth round of UNC-KPA talks at Panmunjom ends without progress.

: DPRK fires some 130 rounds of artillery into the Yellow Sea near its border with the South.

: North Korea seizes a 41-ton South Korean squid boat, the Daeseung 55, with four ROK and three Chinese crew members, apparently for fishing within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the east coast.

: President Lee Myung-bak reshuffles his Cabinet. Against some expectations, the incumbent defense, unification, and foreign ministers all retain their posts.

: ROK Customs data show inter-Korean trade in June totaling $123 million, down 21 percent from May and 32 percent from April. Compared to April, Southern exports of $56.88 million in June were down 27 percent, while imports decreased 36.5 percent to $66.18 million.

: Following joint US-ROK exercises in the East Sea, South Korea holds its own five-day naval maneuvers in the West (Yellow) sea. On Aug. 9 North Korea fires over 100 artillery rounds near the marine border, where the ROK war games were held.

: KCNA reports that recent flash floods affected 5,560 houses and 350 public buildings while inundating 14,850 hectares of farmland.

: MOU reports prices of food and consumer goods in North Korea surged several-fold during February to July as a continuing effect of December’s botched currency reform.

: MOU refuses to let the Korea NGO Council for Cooperation with North Korea, an umbrella body of over 50 Southern aid donors, visit the North, saying such a trip is inappropriate at this time.

: Sources in Seoul claim Pyongyang has suffered little from the South’s ban on processing-on-commission (POC) trade, having found new Chinese partners instead.

: ROK firms operating in the KIZ say they have accepted DPRK demands for a 5 percent pay rise for their Northern workforce, effective Aug. 1. This will raise basic pay from $57.88 to $60.78 monthly.

: UNC and KPA colonels hold their third meeting in Panmujom.

: MOU says Seoul will provide $50 million in low-interest loans to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) hit by its post-Cheonan ban on inter-Korean trade outside the KIZ.

: Both MFA and the NDC castigate the upcoming ROK-US military exercises. NDC warns of “a retaliatory sacred war.” The exercises proceed without incident.

: The ARF meeting in Hanoi expresses “deep concern” over the Cheonan incident but does not identify North Korea as culpable. ROK Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan professes satisfaction. His DPRK counterpart Pak Eui-chun accuses Seoul of “making life difficult for us” economically, at a time when “more than ever, we need stability”.

: In Hanoi Ri Tong-il, spokesman of the DPRK delegation to the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), warns of “a physical response” to the imminent Invincible Spirit joint US-ROK naval maneuvers. The same day Rodong Sinmun warns that “if the US provokes another war, it will only be corpses and graves that it will be presented with.”

: UNC and KPA colonels meet again at Panmunjom. The former proposes a joint assessment group over the Cheonan, while the latter reiterates its demand that South Korea must allow in a 30-man team from its National Defense Committee (NDC) to visit to probe the case.

: Pyongyang again warns Seoul of a discharge from one of its dams.

: In a rare “2 + 2” meeting of both their foreign and defense ministers in Seoul, South Korea and the US warn Pyongyang of “serious consequences” in the event of any new  provocations and call on it to show “genuine will for denuclearisation.”

: MOU reports that at 6,953 tons, the volume of goods entering the South from the KIZ in June is hardly changed from May’s figure of 7,004 tons, despite Seoul’s sanctions over the Cheonan. Total volume for the first half of 2010 almost doubled from last year.

: The UNC formally notifies North Korea of joint US-ROK naval exercises to be held on July 25. Minju Joson, daily paper of the DPRK government, at once denounces these as “very dangerous sabre-rattling.”

: North Korea notifies the South that it may discharge water from a dam on the Imjin River, for flood control reasons. It duly does so the next day.

: MOU’s weekly newsletter notes that Pyongyang appears to be gearing up to launch a diplomatic offensive to ease tensions on the peninsula.

: Yonhap reports that Hyundai Asan has cut 70 percent of its employees and lost sales worth $252 million in the two years since Seoul suspended its tours to Mt. Kumgang resort.

: Meeting at Panmunjom, Colonels Pak Ki-yong of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) and Kurt Taylor of the UNC agree in principle to hold general-level talks about the Cheonan. These would be the first KPA-UNC talks at this level since March 2009.

: Standard & Poor’s (S&P) tells Yonhap that in assessing South Korea’s sovereign credit ratings it weights the North Korea risk factor more heavily now than it did a decade ago.

: CPRF chides ROK Unification Minister Hyun In-taek for “reckless remarks” after he told a business forum in Incheon on July 8 that Pyongyang has made “three major mistakes”: cold-shouldering the South’s offer to help rebuild its economy, taking a hardline approach to the new US government, and failing to understand its own economic condition.

: Rev. Han Sang-ryeol, a radical South Korean priest on an unauthorized visit to the North since June 12, meets members of the North Headquarters of the Pan-National Alliance of Youth and Students for Korea’s Reunification (Pomminyon) in Pyongyang.

: Despite earlier threats, Pyongyang reacts mildly to the UNSC statement. MFA reiterates its willingness to resume the nuclear Six-Party Talks (6PT).

: The UNSC adopts a Presidential Statement on the Cheonan, which avoids directly condemning North Korea.

: MOU permits two NGOs to send baby food (powdered milk) to the North, worth $490,000. A dozen such aid shipments have been formally approved since the Cheonan, but Southern relief groups complain that MOU’s attitude is obstructive.

: North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland (CPRF) threatens a “death-defying war,” should the UN Security Council (UNSC) adopt any statement blaming Pyongyang for sinking the Cheonan.

: North Korea’s Foreign Ministry (MFA) again refuses a proposal by the US-led UN Command (UNC) to discuss the Cheonan at the Military Armistice Commission, saying this is a bid to deflect the North’s demand to send its own inspection team.

: Korea Development Institute (KDI) forecasts that the DPRK economy will shrink further this year as heightened tensions with Seoul hurt inter-Korean trade. Meanwhile in January-May DPRK-China trade was up 18 percent over last year.

: ROK firms operating in the KIZ say they will meet Rep. Won Hee-ryong, who chairs the NA’s foreign policy committee, to press for easing of restrictions imposed in May (as retaliation for the Cheonan) on the number of South Koreans they are allowed to hire.

: The CPRK threatens “stern retaliatory measures” after South Korea’s National Assembly (NA) on June 29 passes a resolution demanding strong measures to punish the North for sinking the ROK corvette Cheonan on March 26.

: Two buses carrying Northern workers to and from the joint venture Kaesong Industrial Zone (KIZ) collide in heavy rain. ROK sources only report this on July 7. They estimate that at least 10 were killed and 36 injured. No South Koreans were involved.

Date Range