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Current Status and Future Objective of Inter-Korean Relations

writer
관리자
created
2008-09-05
hit
25477

 

Current Status and Future Objective of Inter-Korean Relations

 

Six Months after the launch
of the Lee Myung-bak administration

August 25, 2008

 

 

 

I. Assessment of the Current Inter-Korean Relations

 

Inter-Korean relations are currently going through a transitional period for adjustment to enter into a new phase.

- Some argue that inter-Korean relations have moved backward since the launch of the Lee Myung-bak administration as has shown in the suspension of inter-Korean dialogue. They claim that it is mainly due to the hard-line policy of the new administration toward North Korea.
- They believe that the government takes a tough stance on the issues regarding the Vision 3000: Denuclearization and Openness, the June 15 Joint Declaration in 2000 and the October 4 Summit Declaration in 2007. Based on such belief, they criticize the ROK government for not providing humanitarian assistance to North Korea including food aid.
- In the meantime, North Korea takes the Vision 3000 as a scheme to put a precondition of disabling its nuclear facilities and criticizes the ROK government for taking a hostile policy against itself. Moreover, the North has maintained that the ROK government has ignored or scrapped the June 15 Joint Declaration and the October 4 Summit Declaration.

 

However, inter-Korean dialogue has been suspended since the end of March 2008 when the Lee administration was taking an overview of the overall North Korea policy after inauguration.

- North Korea expelled the ROK government officials from the Office for Economic Cooperation and Consultations on March 27.
- The North announced that it would cease all inter-Korean dialogue and contact and denied government officials from the South access to its territories on March 29.
- The North also began to make verbal attacks against President Lee Myung-bak from April 1.
- It has shown no response to our proposals for dialogue to establish a permanent liaison office made on April 17, to have sincere inter-Korean dialogue on June 6 and to engage in comprehensive dialogue on July 11.
- In other words, North Korea has never tried dialogue with the South and just took a hostile policy even without learning what the new administration s North Korea policy really was.

 

North Korea s argument is groundless, which is intended to control inter-Korean relations in favor of itself.

- The ROK government made it clear that it would pursue mutual benefits and common prosperity in its relations with North Korea early in March.
- The South has never denied the June 15 Joint Declaration and the October 4 Summit Declaration. The ROK government s position is that the South and the North come to the table to discuss how to implement all inter-Korean agreements including the two summit declarations.
- The Vision 3000 is designed to expand economic cooperation between the two Koreas according to progress in the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue, not to set denuclearization of North Korea as a precondition for economic cooperation.
- With regard to food aid to North Korea, the ROK government has expressed its intention to provide the North with 50,000 tons of corn in May and June. However, North Korea has not yet made any official response to this proposal.
- The South is also reviewing the official request for food aid from the World Food Program which the UN organization made on August 21 based on its own survey of food demand in North Korea done from June 9 to 30.
- Also, the South has already started its humanitarian assistance for North Korea through NGOs, World Health Organization and other international organizations to the same level as in previous years, which means that it is a misconception that the ROK government has stopped providing humanitarian assistance toward North Korea.
- Therefore, it is a false assertion that the Lee administration s hard-line policy toward North Korea is accountable for the current suspension of inter-Korean relations. Rather, it is mainly due to North Korea s baseless criticism and unyielding position.

 

 

II. Current Status of Inter-Korean Relations

 

Despite stalled dialogue between the authorities of the two Koreas, overall exchanges of people and goods in the private sector have steadily increased from January to July in 2008.

- During the period, 114,122 people excluding tourists traveled across the border, a 47% increase from the same period last year.
- Goods worth of $1.615 billion was exchanged, an 18% increase from the same period last year.
- As of July 2008, about 32,000 North Korean people were working for 72 companies (30 apartment-type factories included) operating in the Gaeseong Industrial Complex. The complex s output for the first half of 2008 totaled $18.87 million and export, $21.17 million which is a 16% increase year on year.
- Social and cultural exchanges and cooperation have stayed the same level as previous years. The two Koreas held a joint event to mark the anniversary of the June 15 Joint Declaration and various sports events.
- The number of South Korean tourists to Mt. Geumgang in the North reached 199,966 by the time of the shooting incident happened at the resort area, which is a 43% increase from the same period last year. Despite the incident, however, the tour project to the North Korean city of Gaeseong has continued.
  * The number of Mt. Geumgang tourists during the same period 2007 was 140,400.

 

Even after the launch of the Lee administration, major economic cooperation projects between the two Koreas have continued. In addition, inter-Korean exchanges of people and goods, actual indicator of the bilateral ties, have been on the rise. Therefore, it is inappropriate to conclude that the overall inter-Korean relations have come to a halt.

 

 

III. Further Objective

 

Not being influenced by the North s attitude, the ROK government will remain unwavering in its pursuit of the North Korea policy of mutual benefits and common prosperity and the advancement of inter-Korean relations.

- To this end, South Korea will urge the North to come forward to participate in unconditional dialogue and resolve pending issues between the two Koreas through dialogue.
- The South will provide humanitarian aid for North Korea from a humanitarian perspective and in the spirit of brotherhood toward fellow North Koreans irrespective of the nuclear issue of the North and other political issues.
- The ROK government will reflect public opinion in its decision on the WFP s food request and the decision will be in line with its own guidelines for humanitarian assistance.
- It will also contribute to development of North Korea and pursue common prosperity through economic cooperation.

 

With regard to the shooting incident happened at Mt. Geumgang, the ROK government will find a solution that can satisfy the public while maintaining a firm stance on the incident.

- The ROK government will send North Korea a consistent message that the incident should be promptly resolved through dialogue between the authorities of the two Koreas.
- It will deal with the incident as an individual issue separating it from other inter-Korean affairs so as to ensure a stable development of the overall inter-Korean relations.