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2021 Ministry of Unification Work Plan


Press Release

“Recovery, Inclusiveness and Resurgence, Republic of Korea 2021”

- Path toward coexistence and peace on the Korean Peninsula : The Ministry of Unification will take another step in achieving denuclearization and settling a peace regime -

2021 Ministry of Unification Work Plan

January 21, 2021


Key Tasks of 2021

 ▸ Make progress toward denuclearization and establishing a peace regime by pursuing the peace process on the Korean Peninsula.
 ▸ Form a community of life and safety on the Korean Peninsula for coexistence and peace.
 ▸ Promote inter-Korean exchange and cooperation.
 ▸ Transform the DMZ into an international peace zone and realize greater peace in border regions.
 ▸ Institutionalize inter-Korean relations and lay the foundation for implementing sustainable policy.


< Case I : Policy outcome over the last four years >
Mr. Park, a resident in Yeoncheon located near the DMZ, feels a lot more relaxed nowadays when he talks on the phone with his brother overseas. In the past, either when military tensions with North Korea were ratcheting up or when North Korean anti-aircraft machine gun shells would land in Yeoncheon, his brother would call every day to ask after him. The situation changed for the better in 2018 when the PyeongChang Winter Olympics were held and the leaders of the two Koreas met at Panmunjeom and walked together across a footbridge. Recently, DMZ Peace Trails along the inter-Korean border area were opened, though the trails are temporarily suspended due to COVID-19, and some guard posts were withdrawn from the DMZ. Hearing such good news, Mr. Park feels much more at peace in his neighborhood than before.

< Case II : 2021 Work Plan>
Mr. Sim, an employee at the Korean Red Cross, has become more hopeful about discussing matters regarding video reunions of separated families with the North in a non-contact way after reading the 2021 Minsitry of Unification Work Plan. If an agreements is to be reached with the North, video reunions will be held in video reunion centers located in 13 regions across the country including one in Jung-gu, Seoul.

 ● On January 21, the Ministry of Unification reported its 2021 Work Plan to the President at the Presidential Office jointly with other foreign affairs and security ministries.


I. Policy outcome over the last four years

 ● Over the past four years, the Unification Ministry has made consistent efforts to promote a peace process on the Korean Peninsula.

  - By resuming inter-Korean dialogue and various inter-Korean exchange and cooperation, the Ministry reduced the threat of war and eased tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

  - As the party directly involved in Korean Peninsula issues, the Ministry has played an important role in denuclearization and North Korea-U.S. dialogue through close cooperation with the U.S. as well as inter-Korean dialogue.

 ● It held inter-Korean talks including summits between leaders of the South and the North.

  - Through a total of 36 inter-Korean talks, including three inter-Korean summits, the Government was able to improve inter-Korean relations and lay the foundation for settling peace by alleviating military tensions.

 ● It carried out a number of inter-Korean exchange and cooperation projects.

  - While supporting various private inter-Korean exchange projects in fields including sports, history and religion, the Government also explored the potential of connecting South-North railways and roads which are the basis of inter-Korean infrastructure cooperation.

  - To provide first-hand peace experiences to the public, a DMZ Peace Tail along the border in Paju, Cheorwon and Goseong were established, and the Panmunjeom tour application process for South Korean nationals has been streamlined.

 ● It made efforts to substantively resolve humanitarian issues caused by the division of the two Koreas.

  - The Government worked in hand with various international organizations to promote humanitarian cooperation.

  - While promoting domestic and international cooperation for the practical improvement of North Korean human rights, the Government also enhanced the daily-life oriented settlement support system for North Korean defectors.

  - In addition to face-to-face reunions, the government pursued other various support measures for separated families such as producing video letters and conducting genetic testings.

 ● It established a sustainable foundation for polices regarding North Korea and unification.

  - The Government promoted social dialogue regarding the National Unification Contract; established the Unification Plus(+) Center in Incheon; and fostered international awareness on unification while strengthening online unification education to meet the demands of changing times.

II. 2021 Ministry of Unification Work Plan

 ① The Ministry will make progress toward denuclearization and establishment of a peace regime by pursuing the peace process on the Korean Peninsula.

  - While restoring the liaison channels between the South and North Korean authorities as soon as possible, the Ministry will devise plans to establish a more substantial body for liaison and consultation between the two Koreas.
  - It will improve inter-Korean relations by engaging in inter-Korean dialogue and implementing inter-Korean agreements.
   • It will make efforts to resume high-level talks and talks in various sectors to discuss pending issues including reunion of separated families and cooperation in public health, prevention of infectious diseases, and climate and environment. This also includes cooperation in forestry and prevention of natural disasters.
  - Together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it will plan to substantially address the North Korean nuclear issue based on coordination between Seoul and Washington, and it will leverage the improvement in inter-Korean relations to make progress toward denuclearization and establishment of a peace regime.
  - It will explore ways to hold inter-Korean military talks and run an inter-Korean military committee. It will also facilitate the implementation of the September 19 Agreement in the Military Domain together with the Ministry of Defense to ensure that it is executed as planned.

 ② The Ministry will strive to form a community of life and safety on the Korean Peninsula for coexistence and peace.

  - It will hold fast to the principle that it consistently carries out humanitarian cooperation including public health and prevention of infectious diseases for the benefit of all people in both South and North Korea.
  - It will begin with the matters in which the two Koreas can work together immediately to overcome COVID-19 and then expand such effort to cooperation in prevention of infectious diseases including African swine fever, and to cooperation in the environment including forestry and management of rivers.
  - It will explore ways to cooperate in improvement of livelihoods including provision of rice and fertilizer in order to expand inter-Korean humanitarian cooperation this year.

 ③ The Ministry will promote inter-Korean exchange and cooperation.

  - It will expand and carry out cooperation projects in many fields including tourism after exploring creative solutions to overcome the realistic limitations due to sanctions against North Korea.
   • It will expand social and cultural cooperation through support for public-private joint inter-Korean events and exchange between social and religious organizations, academic cooperation projects, and cooperation in major international sports events especially at the Tokyo Olympics.                        
  - It will seek to resume economic cooperation between the two Koreas by promoting inter-Korean trade by means of bartering in goods not subject to sanctions on North Korea; facilitating individual visits to North Korea; and constructing non-commercial public infrastructure including railways and roads.
  - It will strive to create conditions conducive to resumption and normalization of inter-Korean cooperation projects including the Gaeseong Industrial Complex.
  - It will expand the grounds for inter-Korean exchange and cooperation projects by exploring development and cooperation projects that are most suitable for each local government.

 ④ The Ministry will transform the DMZ into an international peace zone and realize greater peace in border regions.

  - While finding ways to cooperate with the North in culture, forestry, and the environment along the DMZ, the Ministry will begin with projects it can commence immediately. These projects may include a survey of actual conditions in the southern side of the DMZ.
   • It will also give shape to the initiative to designate the area between Panmunjeom and Gaeseong as a Peace and Cooperation District, and it will press for the inscription of the DMZ on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  - As soon as the rules on social distancing to prevent COVID-19 are relaxed, it will restart tours to Panmunjeom in larger groups
  - It will promote the DMZ Peace Trail program after consultations with relevant agencies, and offer opportunities for the people to walk along the DMZ and the Civilian Control Line areas so that they can closely see the sites of national division and realize the importance of peace and unification.
  - It will support the efforts to enact laws regarding expansion of the peaceful use of the DMZ, the Han River estuary, and the five West Sea islands and revitalization of the economies in the border regions.

 ⑤ The Ministry will institutionalize inter-Korean relations and lay the foundation for implementing sustainable policy.

  - It will pursue the ratification of the Panmunjeom Declaration by the National Assembly and will amend the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Act for more reliable exchange and cooperation.

  - It will carry out peaceful and cooperative policy on North Korean human rights to substantially improve the protection of human rights in North Korea while building a consensus with private organizations and the international community.
  - It will establish a “community-centered” and “daily-life oriented” settlement support system to give local governments more responsibilities for North Korean defectors.
   • In particular, it will find ways to run a support center for North Korean defectors along with appropriate agencies to provide one-stop service to marginalized households.
  - It will implement policy on North Korea together with the general public.
   • It will provide more reliable information on North Korea to the public by disclosing more material produced by the North and archives of inter-Korean talks. It will also seek to do so by introducing an Artificial Intelligence and Big Data system.
  - There is currently only one Unification Plus(+) Center nationwide in Incheon. The Ministry plans to establish more centers in Jeolla and Gangwon provinces and expand unification education programs based on discussion and experience.
   • It will strengthen cooperation with relevant organizations to build the consensus on unification based on participation and experience.
  - It will actively carry out public diplomacy for unification by holding an international forum and track 1.5 strategic dialogue on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the two Koreas simultaneously obtaining membership to the United Nations and the signing of the Inter-Korean Basic Agreement and the 50th anniversary of inter-Korean dialogue.
 ● The Ministry will do its best to improve inter-Korean relations and further the progress in the peace process, and realize peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula.