North Korea - South Korea
Chronology from Sep 2018 to Dec 2018
: Blue House discloses that Kim Jong Un has sent Moon Jae-in a letter, regretting he did not make it to Seoul this year but hoping to meet “frequently” in 2019.
: Approximately 100-strong ROK delegation, including the unification and transport ministers, crosses the DMZ to attend the symbolic groundbreaking ceremony for rail and road reconnection and modernization, held at the DPRK’s Panmun Station in Kaesong.
: ROK Foreign Ministry, confirms that yesterday (just in time) the UN Security Council granted a sanctions waiver for tomorrow’s symbolic groundbreaking ceremony for relinking Northern and Southern roads and railways.
: Ten-strong Southern team enters the North to inspect a short 4 km stretch of the main western Gyeongui highway.
: Uriminzokkiri, a North Korean external propaganda website, calls South Korea “two-faced” for supporting a UN resolution passed by the General Assembly (for the 14th successive year) on Dec. 17 condemning DPRK human rights abuses.
: MOU says it repatriated three DPRK sailors, and the body of a fourth, after the ROK Coast Guard rescued them and their boat found drifting in the East Sea on Dec. 20. No further details are given.
: Ten-strong ROK team enters the DPRK by the east coast route, to conduct a three-day joint inspection of a 100-km section of highway from Goseong up to Wonsan.
: ROK train, which covered 2,600 km over 18 days surveying the DPRK’s western and eastern main lines, is returned via Dorasan, north of Seoul.
: Seoul city government estimates that co-hosting the 2032 Olympic games with Pyongyang would require a budget of around 3.9 trillion won ($3.44 billion).
: South Korean officials and experts return home after completing a 10-day inspection of North Korea’s eastern railway line. The 28-strong team crosses the MDL in the eastern sector, by bus.
: ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) confirm that the DPRK has demolished 10 guardposts in the DMZ. ROK has done the same. The two sides had planned to destroy 11 each, but decide to keep one apiece (albeit now disarmed) “in light of their historical value.”
: After sports talks led by vice-ministers in Kaesong, the two Koreas announce that they will meet the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne, Switzerland on Feb. 15 2019, to discuss their joint bid to co-host the 2032 Summer Olympic Games.
: Senior officials from the two Koreas’ health ministries meet in Kaesong to discuss potential co-operation, including to control influenza.
: The ROK Cabinet approves an MOU proposal to revise the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Act, so that any future curtailment of co-operation with the North must be reviewed by the Cabinet.
: MOU says the budget allocated to its inter-Korean cooperation fund in 2019 will be 1.1 trillion won ($983.4 million): up 15 percent from 2018, and the first time since 2016 that this has exceeded a trillion won.
: In a joint statement, the ROK Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) and the Ministry of National Defense declare that the two Koreas have completed their 35-day joint inspection of estuarine and coastal waterways along their western border. A day later, the (South) Korea Hydrographic and Oceanographic Agency (KHOA) reports that much dredging work is needed, especially in the estuary near Kaesong.
: After a brief home break, South Korea’s rail inspection team heads back to the North: this time by bus, using the eastern land route.
: Media reports claim the South has suggested Dec. 12-14 as dates for Kim Jong Un to visit Seoul, but has gotten no reply yet. Such speculation persists throughout the month.
: MOU says that a meeting today between the joint heads of the North-South liaison office at Kaesong – ROK Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung and Jon Chong Su, vice chairman of the DPRK Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country (CPRC) did not discuss Kim Jong Un visiting Seoul. (These meetings, set originally to be held weekly, are in fact taking place approximately monthly.)
: ROK railway inspection team returns home, having completed a six-day joint survey of the DPRK’s western main line.
: ROK military says that a Korean People’s Army (KPA) soldier defected earlier that day across the eastern sector of the DMZ.
: ROK MND announces the completion of joint work to demolish 10 front-line guardposts on each side and de-mine a ridge in the DMZ, begun in October.
: ROK MND reports that (having secured an exemption from UNSC sanctions) it delivered optical and copper cable transmission equipment and communication conduits to the DPRK for use in the west coast inter-Korean military communication line.
: A six-car South Korean train, with a 28-strong ROK inspection team aboard, crosses the DMZ to begin an 18-day joint inspection of DPRK railway lines.
: South Korea sends 50 tons of pesticide to the North, to treat disease affecting pine trees. The truck convoy crosses via the western land route, unloading in Kaesong.
: Two Koreas agree that joint inspection of the North’s main west and east coast railway lines will begin on Nov. 30.
: The first ever joint submission by the two Koreas to UNESCO succeeds. Meeting in Mauritius, the UN body’s World Heritage Committee agrees to inscribe ssirum (Korean traditional wrestling) as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
: MND announces that yesterday and today ROK military planes flew 200 tons of tangerines from Jeju island to Pyongyang, as a return gift for the pine mushrooms sent by the DPRK.
: The Blue House declares the North’s pine mushrooms safe to eat.
: Two Koreas hold vice-ministerial talks in Kaesong on health cooperation.
: Two Koreas launch a month-long joint survey of the Han and Imjin River estuaries on their west coast border. Ten military and hydrographic experts from each side, in six ROK sonar-equipped vessels, will measure water depths to plot safe channels for navigation along a 70 km stretch of estuary and coast in both the ROK and DPRK.
: Meeting in Kaesong, the two Koreas’ vice-ministers for sport agree to officially inform the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of their intent to co-host the 2032 Summer Olympics. They will also send a combined team to the world handball championships in January.
: Major provisions of September’s North-South military agreement take effect, including no-fly zones and restrictions on maneuvers within specified distances of the DMZ.
: Kim Min-ki, a lawmaker of South Korea’s ruling Democratic Party (DP), tells reporters that the ROK National Intelligence Service (NIS) has observed North Koreans “conducting preparation and intelligence activities that seem to be in preparation for foreign inspectors’ visit” at Punggye-ri nuclear test site and the Sohae satellite launching ground.
: Two Koreas hold what are officially the 10th Inter-Korean General-level Military Talks at Panmunjom to discuss implementation of the military agreement signed in September. They issue a six-point statement, reconfirming that accord’s various provisions and updating on concrete progress and future plans.
: ROK Cabinet ratifies the Pyongyang Joint Declaration and military agreement. Opposition parties protest that this sidelines the National Assembly, where a bill to ratify the earlier Panmunjom Declaration remains bogged down in partisan wrangling.
: Two Koreas meet in Kaesong to discuss cooperation in forestry. They issue a four-point agreement, whose provisions include Southern aid to combat pine disease and for Northern tree nurseries, as well as ecosystem restoration.
: High-level talks on implementing the Pyongyang Joint Declaration are held at Panmunjom. A seven-point agreement recommits to further talks and/or specific activities in seven areas: military, transport, forestry, health, sport, Red Cross, and art performances.
: A 160-strong ROK delegation, mainly of NGOs and activists but including Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, flies to Pyongyang to participate in ceremonies marking the 11th anniversary of the second inter-Korean summit in 2007; the first time this has ever been thus commemorated. They fly back on Oct. 6.
: The Blue House announces that, as in 2000 and 2007, North Korea has sent a gift of two tons of pine mushrooms, a Northern delicacy, to commemorate the recent summit. These will be distributed to members of separated families who could not meet North Korean family members in the latest reunions, in August. Only 100 out of 57,000 applicants, selected by lot, made the cut. Some in South Korea claim there is a risk that the mushrooms, harvested in the DPRK’s northeast, could be radioactive.
: Moon and Kim and their entourages head north for a photo-opportunity on Mt. Paekdu, a sacred peak (Korea’s highest) on the Chinese border. The ROK party flies directly back to Seoul from Samjiyon airport in the northeastern DPRK.
: Moon and Kim sign a fresh agreement, the Pyongyang Joint Declaration. Their defense ministers also sign a major new accord, the “Agreement on the Implementation of the Historic Panmunjom Declaration in the Military Domain.”
: President Moon Jae-in, with a large entourage including business leaders, flies into Pyongyang’s Sunan airport where they are greeted by Kim Jong Un.
: Working-level talks at Panmunjom finalize details of the impending summit.
: Working-level talks at Panmunjom finalize details of the impending summit. Moon will fly to Pyongyang on Sept. 18 with an almost 200-strong entourage, including business leaders. An ROK advance party will head North overland on Sept. 16.
: Seoul press reports hint at disquiet in the Blue House that North Korea has not yet responded to the South’s urgent request for a working-level meeting to fine-tune the practical details of President Moon’s summit visit to Pyongyang, now imminent. Logistics and security alike remain to be sorted out. (See next day ….)
: ROK government rejects opposition charges that it is playing down the expense of implementing the Panmunjom Declaration. Critics are contrasting MOU’s figure of 298.6 billion won ($264.8 million) with the ministry’s estimate a decade ago that similar projects envisaged in the 2007 inter-Korean summit would cost 14.3 trillion won.
: A 22-strong DPRK shooting squad flies home from Gimhae airport, via Beijing, after bagging two silver and two bronze medals in the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Championship held at Changwon in the ROK’s southeast.
: In Vladivostok for the Eastern Economic Forum ROK Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon envisages “a new avenue opening for three-way cooperation among South and North Korea and Russia.”
: ROK Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) announces that joint North-South excavations at Manwoldae, the royal palace of the Koryo dynasty (918-1392 CE) in Korea’s then-capital Kaesong, will resume on Sept. 27 for three months. Seven rounds of joint archaeological work were conducted at the site between 2007 and 2015. In 2016 then-ROK President Park Geun-hye suspended the program amid rising inter-Korean tensions.
: In Vladivostok for the Eastern Economic Forum, ROK Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon envisages “a new avenue opening for three-way cooperation among South and North Korea and Russia.”
: Blue House Chief of Staff Im Jong-seok invites nine parliamentarians to accompany President Moon to Pyongyang. At least three decline. National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang pleads being too busy, while the leaders of two conservative opposition parties, the right-wing Liberty Korea Party (LKP) and the more centrist Bareunmirae, criticize the forthcoming summit as a “show-off without substance.”
: Citing “multiple sources,” the center-right JoongAng Ilbo, Seoul’s leading daily, claims that the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) have completed a report comparing the two Koreas’ military strengths, which Moon Jae-in ordered ahead of the Pyongyang summit.
: Center-right JoongAng Ilbo, Seoul’s leading daily, claims that the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) have completed a report comparing the two Koreas’ military strengths, which Moon Jae-in ordered ahead of the Pyongyang summit.
: Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation (KCRC), a quasi-official umbrella body representing some 200 South Korean NGOs, says it will meet its Northern counterpart in late October at Mount Kumgang to call for sincere implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration. Further details will be worked out by fax and email.
: Ahead of a state visit by Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Moon Jae-in tells the Indonesian newspaper Kompas that his goal is to make “irreversible progress” by the end of the year toward denuclearization and a permanent peace on the peninsula. He adds that the “special envoy’s visit [to Pyongyang] went well, and the results exceeded expectations.”
: Latest Gallup Korea poll finds President Moon’s approval ratings, on the slide since mid-June, below 50 percent for the first time. Negative appraisals rise to 42 percent. While this is attributed mainly to economic dissatisfaction, media comment notes that North Korea is no longer a booster factor for Moon.
: South Korea’s foreign ministry (MOFA) reports that on Sept. 6 the two Korean states wrote jointly to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to request that the Panmunjom Declaration, signed at April 27’s summit, be circulated as an official UN document.
: Blue House says that on Sept. 11 Moon’s government will submit a bill to the National Assembly to formally ratify April’s Panmunjom Declaration. (Previous efforts to that end have failed; see May 28, above. See also Sept. 10, below.)
: South Korea’s Foreign Ministry (MOFA) reports that on Sept. 6 the two Korean states wrote jointly to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to request that the Panmunjom Declaration be circulated as an official UN document.
: Blue House (Cheongwadae, the ROK Presidential office and residence) says that on Sept. 11 Moon’s government will submit a bill to the National Assembly to formally ratify April’s Panmunjom Declaration.
: In Kaesong, the two Koreas’ cultural authorities discuss potential cooperation in several fields. They agree to resume a joint archaeological project; see Sept. 11, below.
: President Moon Jae-in’s special envoy, National Security Adviser Chung Eu-yong, flies to Pyongyang heading a five-person delegation (the same quintet as on March 5-6). They meet Kim Jong Un, who inter alia reaffirms his commitment to denuclearization amid warm words for Moon and for Donald Trump. The delegation flies home to Seoul the same evening and immediately reports back to Moon, at 9.44pm local time.
: President Moon’s special envoy, his national security adviser Chung Eu-yong, flies to Pyongyang heading a five-strong delegation (the same quintet as on March 5-6). They meet Kim Jong Un, who inter alia reaffirms his commitment to denuclearization amid warm words for Moon and for Donald Trump. The delegation flies home to Seoul the same evening and immediately reports back to Moon, at 21:44 local time.