Chronology of North Korea-South Korea Relations

Content Type
Journal Article
Comparative Connections
Issue Number
Publication Date
January 2010
Center for Strategic and International Studies
No abstract is available.
Political Geography
North Korea, Korea
Oct. 1, 2009: On ROK Armed Forces Day, President Lee Myung-bak says: “South-North dialogue and peace will progress when we have a strong military with firm readiness.” Oct. 1, 2009: ROK Coast Guard escorts a 3-ton boat carrying 11 North Koreans into an eastern naval base. Oct. 1, 2009: Asia Pulse reports KoGas president Choo Kang-soo as saying that the ROK state provider will import liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Russia by ship rather than pipe it across the DPRK, unless Pyongyang asks for the pipeline to be built on its soil. Oct. 2, 2009: The Seoul press reports that Hyundai Asan has paid North Korea $487 million in fees for tours to Mount Kumgang since 1998, plus $714 million to build facilities there. Oct. 2, 2009: The second tranche of family reunions ends at Mount Kumgang. This briefly brought together 98 elderly North Koreans and 428 of their Southern relatives. Oct. 3, 2009: Rodong Sinmun, daily paper of the North's ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), calls on Seoul to resume exchanges and cooperation as per the 2000 and 2007 inter-Korean accords, regardless of the nuclear deadlock and international sanctions. Oct. 4, 2009: South Korea's Unification Ministry (MOU) reports that all 11 North Korean boat people (see Oct. 1) want to stay in the South. Oct. 5, 2009: ROK Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan says Seoul will fine-tune details of President Lee Myung-bak's “grand bargain” for tackling the DPRK nuclear stalemate. Oct. 5, 2009: ROK Defense Minister Kim Tae-young says South Korea has identified about 100 sites linked to the North's nuclear program. Oct. 5, 2009: Kwon Young-se, a lawmaker of South Korea's ruling conservative Grand National Party (GNP), says North Korea received aid worth $2.29 billion since 1994 in return for promises to scrap its nuclear program, on which it has reneged. Oct. 5, 2009: Hong Joon-pyo, a South Korean lawmaker, says one-third of the North's 180,000-strong Special Forces operate under the direct command of the general staff or as snipers. Oct. 5, 2009: ROK Ministry of National Defense (MND) says North Korea is thought to have 2,500-5,000 tons of chemical weapons as well as 13 types of viruses and germs that can be used in biological weapons. North Korea-South Korea Relations 92 January 2010 Oct. 5, 2009: Citing fears that China dominates the DPRK's minerals sector, lawmaker Lee Mi-kyung of the Democratic Party (DP) calls on the Lee administration to revive a stalled swap deal whereby the South received Northern zinc in return for supplying basic household goods. Oct. 5, 2009: DP lawmaker Song Young-kil, citing MOU and Red Cross data, says that Southern medical aid to the North in January-June fell sharply to $7.09 million, down from $57.89 million in the first half of 2008. Oct. 6, 2009: Seoul's Finance Ministry (MOSF) says next year's spending on inter-Korean economic cooperation will rise by 30 per cent to W398.2 billion ($339.6 million). A fifth of this is earmarked to improve infrastructure and facilities at the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC). Oct. 6, 2009: Samsung Economic Research Institute (SERI), a leading private think tank in Seoul, says that a reduction in foreign aid has driven up food prices in North Korea. Oct. 7, 2009: South Korea's Foreign Ministry (MOFAT) reports that China has briefed the ROK on Wen Jiabao's visit to Pyongyang. Oct. 7, 2009: Yonhap reports that so far this year MOU has spent only W56 billion on inter-Korean cooperation – less than 5 percent of the W1.16 trillion ($991 million) budgeted. Oct. 8, 2009: ROK Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan says that UN sanctions must remain in place even if the DPRK comes back to the Six-Party Talks. Oct. 10, 2009: The Blue House (the ROK presidential office) says that China and Japan both endorsed President Lee's idea of a “grand bargain” to denuclearize North Korea at the three nations' trilateral summit held in Beijing that day. China refers to it as a “great exchange.” Oct. 12, 2009: North Korea test-fires five short-range missiles in the East Sea/Sea of Japan. Officials in Seoul say this violates UNSC resolutions 1695, 1718, and 1874. Oct. 14, 2009: Talks on flood prevention are held at Kaesong. Pyongyang belatedly expresses regret for the deaths of the six South Korean campers on Sept. 6, who drowned when the North without warning opened floodgates on its Hwanggang dam. Seoul accepts this de facto apology. Oct. 16, 2009: A meeting between the two Koreas' Red Cross bodies at Kaesong ends without agreement on family reunions or other issues. Oct. 18, 2009: The Blue House dismisses a claim in a Pentagon background briefing that Kim Jong-il has invited Lee Myung-bak to a summit in Pyongyang as a “misunderstanding.” Oct. 19, 2009: ROK Customs Service reports September's inter-Korean trade, totaling $173.17 million, was up 2.6 percent over September 2008; the first increase in 13 months. Oct. 23, 2009: Nam Sung-wook, a key adviser to President Lee and head of the Institute for National Security Strategy in Seoul, claims that Kim Jong-il has had a row with his son. North Korea-South Korea Relations 93 January 2010 Oct. 26, 2009: Seoul officials say that the DPRK has “as good as finished” a new missile base at Dongchang-ri, 200 km northwest of Pyongyang. Oct. 26, 2009: South Korea's Red Cross faxes its Northern counterpart offering to send 10,000 tons of corn, 20 tons of milk powder and some medicine. Oct. 27, 2009: Seoul tightens its rules on three major imports from North Korea: sand, pine mushrooms and anthracite Oct. 27, 2009: KCNA says that a 30-year-old South Korean, Kang Dong-lim, defected by crossing the eastern military demarcation line (MDL) on Oct. 26. Oct. 30, 2009: Won Sei-hoon, head of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), tells ROK lawmakers at a closed-door meeting of the National Assembly Intelligence Committee that Pyongyang was behind a wave of cyber-attacks in early July. Nov. 1, 2009: An official in Seoul says the US and ROK have finalized Operational Plan (OPLAN) 5029, which specifies joint responses to possible DPRK contingencies – including regime collapse. Nov. 3, 2009: KCNA says that the DPRK has “successfully completed the reprocessing of 8,000 spent fuel rods,” with “noticeable successes …in turning the extracted plutonium weapon-grade for the purpose of bolstering up the nuclear deterrent.” Nov. 9, 2009: Rodong Sinmun attacks OPLAN 5029 as “Their concoction of such farcical events which can never happen in the DPRK is an unpardonable provocation.” Nov. 10, 2009: The DPRK website Uriminzokkiri condemns the ROK's corn aid offer as “pitiful and narrow-minded.” Nov. 10, 2009: A DPRK patrol boat enters Southern waters and responds to a warning shot with 50 rounds of live fire. The ROK navy fires 200 rounds and seriously damages the boat. Nov. 12, 2009: Rodong Sinmun calls Nov. 10's naval skirmish a “premeditated provocation” by the South, which will “pay dearly.” Nov. 17, 2009: President Lee instructs his Cabinet to study the impact of any reforestation of North Korea on the peninsula as a whole (presumably in terms of carbon balance). Nov. 17, 2009: Rodong Sinmun vows that “we will continue to make active efforts for the improvement of North-South relations.” Nov. 19, 2009: The ROK co-sponsors a UN resolution critical of the DPRK's human rights record. Next day North Korea's Foreign Ministry says it “resolutely dismisses” the resolution as a “stereotype political plot.” North Korea-South Korea Relations 94 January 2010 Nov. 29, 2009: The South rescues a KPA sergeant whose boat drifted south of the West (Yellow) Sea border while he was fishing. He is returned via Panmunjom on Dec. 2. Nov. 30, 2009: North Korea conducts a surprise currency reform. Citizens have a week to exchange old won for new won, at a rate of 100:1. Only a limited amount can be exchanged, rendering savings worthless. Dec. 4, 2009: North Korea belatedly confirms its currency redenomination. Sources in Seoul report that reactions in the North include suicides and protests, some put down violently. Dec. 5, 2009: KCNA condemns a bill on DPRK human rights abuses, passed recently by a subcommittee of the ROK National Assembly, as “an intolerable insult and unpardonable politically motivated provocation [and] a revelation of the ambition of traitors to the nation to escalate confrontation …because they are steeped in it to the marrow of their bones.” Dec. 8, 2009: US Special Envoy Stephen Bosworth and his interagency team fly into Pyongyang from Osan Air Base, south of Seoul, in a US military plane. Dec. 9, 2009: North Korea admits for the first time that it does have cases of swine flu. Dec. 10, 2009: Ambassador Bosworth arrives in Seoul, where he briefs ROK officials on his visit to Pyongyang. Dec. 12-22, 2009: A joint Korean team, with 10 members each from North and South, visits industrial parks in China and Vietnam to learn lessons for the KIC. Dec. 15, 2009: MOU says it will send antiviral drugs to North Korea on Dec. 18, and duly does so. The consignment, offered gratis and without monitoring, is worth $15 million. Dec. 18, 2009: For a fifth successive year the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) approves a resolution critical of North Korean human rights abuses. Dec. 19, 2009: Rodong Sinmun avers that “the nuclear issue has nothing to do with North-South relations, so it cannot become an obstacle to improving inter-Korean ties.” Dec. 21, 2009: Accusing the ROK of conducting underwater explosions close to its waters, the KPA declares the West (Yellow) Sea border area a “peacetime firing zone.” ROK expresses regret, calls the DPRK's position “irrational” and warns of a stern response to any provocation. Dec. 22, 2009: ROK Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan says the Six-Party Talks must resume by end-February at the latest, “otherwise the life of the talks may come to an end.” Dec. 22, 2009: IFES reports that Kim Jong-il's on-site visits so far this year total 156, 70 percent more than in 2008. Unlike last year when 50 of Kim's 90 visits were military-related, this time 41 percent were economic in focus and only 27 percent military. North Korea-South Korea Relations 95 January 2010 North Korea-South Korea Relations 96 January 2010 Dec. 22, 2009: MOU says it will return seven Northern fishermen whose boat drifted into Southern waters, as this is their wish. They are duly repatriated on Dec. 23 via Panmunjom. Dec. 23, 2009: MOU says the North “was always cooperative and actively participated” in a recent joint tour of factory parks in China and Vietnam, saying “they wished the Kaesong park would grow like those.” Dec. 25, 2009: MOU says it will contribute 15 billion won ($13 million) to projects by the World Health Organization and UNICEF supporting infants and improving public health in the DPRK. It will also fund food aid for Northern children via ROK NGOs. Dec. 30, 2009: New North-South military hotlines, using fiber optic cables, are inaugurated. Dec. 30, 2009: Seoul says it will ask KEDO – the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization, the defunct consortium set up under the 1994 US-DPRK Agreed Framework – to look into reports that Pyongyang has pilfered equipment (mostly South Korean) at the Shinpo site where until 2002 KEDO had been building two light water reactors (LWRs). Dec. 31, 2009: The customary joint New Year editorial of the three main DPRK dailies calls for “national reconciliation and cooperation” with the ROK, including “travel and contacts between the people from all walks of life.” Dec. 31, 2009: ROK President Lee says that despite little progress in inter-Korean relations in 2009, his government “worked successfully to brace for a paradigm shift.” He reiterates that any breakthrough must entail resolving the North Korean nuclear issue. Jan. 3, 2010: MOU reacts positively to the DPRK's New Year editorial, noting its emphases on denuclearization through dialogue and on improving its people's livelihood.