North Korea - South Korea
Chronology from Sep 2017 to Dec 2017
: Representatives of SMEs invested in the KIC demand the zone’s reopening, chanting: “We would like to go to Kaesong.”
: Yonhap cites unnamed ROK officials as saying that the Hong Kong-flagged vessel Lighthouse Winmore, which docked in Yeosu on Nov. 24, has been seized on suspicion of transferring 600 tons of refined petroleum to a DPRK vessel on the high seas on Oct. 19.
: MOU-appointed panel into Park Geun-hye’s abrupt closure in February 2016 of the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) says this was done improperly by fiat, without due intra-governmental consultation.
: Yonhap publishes a news focus article headlined: “Uncertainties shroud prospect of dialogue with N. Korea in 2018.” A week later, the shroud lifts somewhat…
: Another KPA soldier defects at the DMZ, somewhere in the western sector (the exact location is not disclosed). Unlike Nov. 13’s drama, the private simply walked to a Southern guard post under cover of fog. ROK forces fire about 20 warning shots when the KPA discover his absence and start searching close to the MDL.
: Youbit, a Seoul-based bitcoin exchange, closes and files for bankruptcy after a cyber-attack steals 17 percent of its assets. Media reports claim ROK investigators suspect the DPRK, as also for an earlier $72 million theft from Youbit in April and other cyberheists in Bangladesh (2016) and Taiwan (2017).
: Wounded defector Oh Chong-song is transferred from the Ajou trauma center which was treating him, to a military hospital where he will be questioned when well enough.
: ROK daily JoongAng Ilbo quotes unnamed source claiming that Hwang Pyong So, who as political director of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) was one of Kim Jong Un’s two top aides, has been expelled from the ruling Workers’ Party (WPK) for taking bribes. This remains unconfirmed, but Hwang was last seen in public on Oct. 14.
: CNN publishes a further account, including graphic medical footage, of the defector now named as Oh Chong-song (who it says gave his permission for publication).
: Photograph taken at Panmunjom by acting US ambassador in Seoul, Marc Knapper, shows North Korean soldiers and workers digging a trench and planting trees so as to foil any future attempts to flee to the South.
: John Cook-Jong Lee, the surgeon treating the Panmunjom defector (whose surname is Oh), provides further details of his serious injuries and says he is a “nice guy.”
: Three ROK and three US soldiers who rescued the wounded North Korean defector at Panmunjom are awarded medals of commendation. The North, meanwhile, has reportedly replaced all its border guards there.
: United Nations Command finally releases video of the Nov. 13 defection at Panmunjom. On the same day, the defector regains consciousness.
: Doctors treating the badly wounded but now stable Northern defector (said to be a KPA staff sergeant in his mid-20s) reveal that his digestive tract contained dozens of parasitic worms, some large; indicating that even elite North Koreans suffer from poor diet.
: In a rare and dramatic incident (video here), a North Korean soldier flees to the South at Panmunjom.
: ROK SMEs formerly invested in the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) petition their government to investigate reports that the North has illegally reopened the zone.
: Moon government approves $8 million humanitarian aid package for North Korea, via the UN.
: North Korean website Uriminzokkiri warns “the south Korean puppet forces” that “dependence on outside forces will lead to miserable destruction … It is illogical to talk about ‘dialog’ and ‘restoration of south-north relations’ while desperately working to stifle the DPRK together with outside forces … This reminds one of traitors Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye.”
: President Moon firmly rules out any nuclear option for South Korea, be it the return of US tactical weapons or autonomously. But he accepts that the ROK must “develop our military capabilities in the face of North Korea’s nuclear advancement.”
: MOU says the ROK is considering giving aid worth $8 million to the DPRK via the UN, on the principle that humanitarianism should be separate from politics. A decision will be made Sept. 21. $4.5 million is for projects run by the World Food Program (WFP), with the rest to UNICEF for nutrition, medications, and vaccines. Seoul may also provide $6 million for the UN-supported DPRK census, planned for next year.
: President Moon firmly rules out any nuclear option for South Korea, whether the return of US tactical weapons or autonomously. But he accepts that the ROK must “develop our military capabilities in the face of North Korea’s nuclear advancement.”
: The New York Times reports that the ROK military is accelerating formation of a “decapitation unit,” originally planned under Park Geun-hye as a medium-term project, to target Kim Jong Un in the event of war.
: New York Times reports that the ROK military is accelerating formation of a “decapitation unit”, originally planned under Park Geun-hye as a medium-term project, to target Kim Jong Un in the event of war.
: Responding to North Korea’s Sept. 3 nuclear test, the UN Security Council passes – unanimously – its eighth major resolution since 2006 censuring North Korea. UNSCR 2375 (full text here) tightens economic sanctions against the DPRK, which denounces these measures – with even more vitriol than usual.
: Unification Ministry (MOU) says that although there is no official word, the Seoul-based World Taekwondo (WT, formerly WTF) has been told by the DPRK-based International Taekwondo Federation that “given the current security situation” it can no longer send a demonstration team to the ITF championships in Pyongyang on Sept. 15-21.
: Responding to North Korea’s Sept. 3 nuclear test, the UN Security Council passes – unanimously, as ever – its eighth major resolution since 2006 censuring North Korea. UNSCR 2375 (full text here) further tightens economic sanctions gainst the DPRK, which as ever denounces these measures – even more vitriolically than usual.
: Reacting to an NBC report that the US does not rule out moving tactical nuclear weapons to the ROK if Seoul requests, the Blue House denies any such plans saying, “There is no change in the government’s policy principle of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and we have never reviewed a re-adoption of the tactical nukes.”
: Reacting to an NBC report that the US does not rule out moving tactical nuclear weapons to the ROK if Seoul so requests, the Blue House denies any such plans: “There is no change in the government’s policy principle of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and we have never reviewed a re-adoption of the tactical nukes.”
: DPRK conducts sixth, and most powerful, nuclear test since 2006. Most observers accept Pyongyang’s claim that this was a hydrogen bomb. In response, the ROK on Sept. 4 holds a live-fire ballistic missile drill.
: Under the headline “Anti-DPRK Campaign of S. (sic) Korean Puppet Reptile Writers Will Be Foiled,” North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quotes the Central Committee of the Journalists Union of [North] Korea as excoriating Southern media, five of them by name. The CCJUK vows to “… sharpen the just writing brushes to defend our leader, our party and our social system” and to “track down the puppet conservative reptile writers fostering discord … and throw overboard all of them … Our grime (sic) and merciless pen will sight the bases which commit hideous crimes against the DPRK by spreading misinformation about it, and beat them to pieces.”
: DPRK conducts its sixth, and much the most powerful, nuclear test since 2006. Most observers accept Pyongyang’s claim that this was a hydrogen bomb. In response, the ROK on Sept. 4 holds a live-fire ballistic missile drill.
: Health authorities in Gyeonggi Province, which surrounds Seoul and abuts the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), say that nine out of 10 malaria infections in South Korea occur in areas bordering the North. Malaria cases in the South have risen since joint efforts, funded by the ROK, to tackle the disease on the Northern side lapsed in 2012 as tensions worsened.