Inter-Korean Government-level Contact on April 21
On April 21 the South and North Korean delegations had a contact at the DPRK's Special Distric General Bureau and exchanged each other's position.
At the meeting, the North Korean delegation conveyed its position to the South Korean counterpart as follow:
1) The North will make an overall review on institutional favors that it granted to the South in proceeding with the GIC project.
- To begin with, it will re-make the land lease contract for the GIC from the scratch, and shorten the grace period to six years from the original ten years. Therefore, the South is now required to pay its land royalty starting from 2010, instead of 2014.
- In addition, wages paid to the North Korean workers in the GIC need be adjusted to a realistic level.
2) The North will call for initiating negotiations to review existing contracts with regard to the GIC project.
- The South must fully cooperate with the North in holding necessary contacts in this regard.
In response, the South Korean delegation delivered the North its position as follow:
1) The North should immediately stop taking tension-creating actions as it did in the past by nullifying inter-Korean agreements governing the elimination of political and military confrontation between the two Koreas, as such provocative measures only raise disappointments and concerns from the international community.
- South Korea s participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) which Pyongyang has recently taken issue with needs to be understood as a pursuit of a universal value of protecting the safety of mankind. Apparently, it is unreasonable for Pyongyang to make such a claim that the participation is a declaration of confrontation or a war against the North, given the fact that basically it is the Inter-Korean Agreement on Maritime Transportation that governs the maritime areas surrounding the Korean peninsula.
- The South believes that the North, too, wants to pursue peace and stability of the international community, and thus join the international community s efforts in this regard.
2) With regard to a South Korean worker being held in custody by the North Korean authority, Seoul would like to point out that the North is violating inter-Korean agreements and demand that it should immediately hand him over to the South Korean authority.
3) The South urges the North to rescind measures it took on December 1, 2008 such as restricting South Korean citizens cross-border travel and stay in the North Korean territory.
4) Emphasizing that Seoul is refraining from making denouncements on the North s supreme leader in the spirit of mutual respect and in accordance with inter-Korean agreements, it strongly urges Pyongyang to immediately stop making verbal attacks and derogatory remarks against South Korea s supreme leader.
5) The South proposed holding further inter-Korean contacts in order to address pending issues between the two Koreas including the entry and stay in the GIC.
We strongly urged Pyongyang to immediately hand over the South Korean citizen being held in custody by the North Korean authority.
- Forceful detention of the citizen is direct violation of the Clause 3 of Article 10 of the Agreement on the Entrance, Exit and Stay in the Gaeseong Industrial Complex Zone and Mt. Geumgang Tourism Zone, which states the basic rights. Therefore, we called for North Korea to immediately release the detainee without any further delay.
- We made it clear that, if the North does not release the detainee immediately, the ROK government will take a decisive action and the North must assume responsibility for any consequences.
- The North Korean delegation, however, flatly rejected our demand, claiming that the detention of the South Korean citizen is irrelevant to this round of inter-Korean contact.
Taking into consideration the seriousness of this matter, the South Korean delegation decided to postpone its departure for Seoul and kept demanding the North to allow the detainee the rights to have an access to and counsel with a lawyer and to hand him over to South Korea.
In the meantime, there had been several problems with the formality of the meeting; the North did not even informed us of the agenda for the contact beforehand.
Despite such problems, our delegation was willing to make a trip to Gaeseong, because we viewed the detention of a South Korean citizen with a grave concern as it is not just a matter of an individual s detention but a matter greatly affecting the South Korean people and inter-Korean relations as a whole.
The North, however, has made no efforts to address the issue. Instead, they took measures in order to justify prolonged detention which has only worsened the situation.
- It is hardly understandable that they refused to discuss over such a critical issue with our delegation which in fact went there at the invitation of Pyongyang.
The North did not respond to our calls for immediate withdrawal of the measures to restrict cross-border travel and stay in the North of South Korean citizens, nor did it cooperate with us for the stable development of the GIC.
We express regret over the fact that North Korea keeps doing unreasonable behaviors including the recent rocket launch which requires enormous cost, while turning a blind eye to projects that can relieve the internal hardship and give practical benefits to its people such as the development of the Gaeseong complex in a stable manner.
- We have remained patient and calm in dealing with the situation, called for the North to come forward to the dialogue, saying that the door to talks are always widely open.
- We also reiterated this position at the meeting.
- We hope that the North work with us to improve inter-Korean relations through dialogue and cooperation and to join in the international community s efforts to achieve peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.
Despite unfavorable conditions, the South Korean delegation made its best efforts to guarantee the safety of the detained employee and his safe return to the South.
- It is regrettable that we failed to achieve a desired outcome due to the North s hostile attitude. We are very sorry for his family in that regard.
- We warned the North clearly that, if it handles the case unilaterally, the North cannot get away with this and surely bear serious consequences.
Once again, we reiterate that the North must take our warning seriously.
- The government would like to ensure to its people that we will do our utmost efforts for the safe return of the detained employee.