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| 3 Aug 2015
Reports emerged 22 July DPRK has upgraded a launch tower to accommodatelarger space launch vehicles; U.S. warned it against “destabilizing activities”. ROK and U.S. 29 June-9 July ran “Combined Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore Exercise” on west coast. Some ten DPRK soldiers crossed Military Demarcation Line (MDL) 11 July, returned north after ROK army fired warning shots. Amid ongoing severe drought UNICEF warned lives of many DPRK children at risk.Two ROK citizens who had been in China near DPRK border sentenced to life for espionage by DPRK court; ROK confirmed their citizenship, denied spying accusations.
| 1 Jul 2015
U.S. and ROK 31 May-3 June conducted combined anti-submarine warfare (ASW) drill near Cheju Island, and another combined ASW exercise 8-12 June in the Philippine Sea; 29 June launched joint military logistics exercise. DPRK late month threatened U.S. with “tougher countermeasures”, following U.S. criticism of DPRK in annual global human rights report; 29 June said it is ready for conventional, nuclear or cyber wars with U.S. after U.S. sent guided missile submarine to Pusan and guided missile cruiser to Yokosuka Naval Base. ROK 3 June test-fired new 500km-range ballistic missile, capable of striking all DPRK territory. DPRK state media mid-June reported test-fire of short-range anti-ship missiles in Wŏnsan. ROK 26 June imposed financial sanctions on Taiwanese and Syrian arms corporations trading with DPRK. Pyongyang 9 June announced provincial, county and municipal people assembly elections will take place 19 July. DPRK 24 June sent high-ranking envoys to Russia, Cuba and Equatorial Guinea. ROK navy 30 June fired warning shots as DPRK patrol vessel crossed ROK waters.
| 1 Jun 2015
DPRK 8 May conducted submarine-launched ballistic missile ejection test, triggering alarm in Seoul, and conducted live-fire artillery exercises around NLL mid-May; evidence of expansion of Pyongyang’s satellite launch facilities also prompted concern, with DPRK media reporting that Kim Jong-un visited new satellite command and control centre close to his Pyongyang residence. ROK intelligence service reported late April purge and execution of KPA General Hyŏn Yŏng-ch’ŏl. KPA claimed seventeen ROK Navy patrol boats crossed into DPRK territorial waters on DPRK-claimed northern side of Military Demarcation Line Extended 1-7 May; KPA warned it would fire at ROK patrol boats if they were to enter “DPRK territorial waters”. U.S., ROK and Japan 27 May discussed how to raise pressure on DPRK to halt nuclear program. ROK Navy 19 May conducted live-fire missile exercise in Sea of Japan; together with coast guard conducted two-day defence drill around Tokto/Takeshima Islets. ROK military 26 May said DPRK is building artillery positions near inter-Korean sea border. DPRK 20 May said it is able to miniaturise nuclear weapons, a key step toward building nuclear missiles.
| 30 Apr 2015
ROK and U.S. held bilateral military consultations, including early April Seoul visit by U.S. Sec Defense Carter for talks with ROK counterpart Han Min-gu. U.S. hosted two trilateral meetings mid-month in attempt to reinforce cooperation between Japan and ROK. ROK and Japan held first high-level security talks in over five years. ROK and U.S. 22 April agreed on revision of bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement. DPRK test-fired several anti-ship and air defence missiles early April. ROK 31 March approved creation of Cyber Security Secretary Office under National Security Office to strengthen coordination in response to cyber threats; 20 April disclosed mid-term defence plan for 2016-2020, with 7% increase in military budget compared with previous version. Chinese nuclear experts told U.S. DPRK may already have 20 nuclear warheads. DPRK media 26 March reported arrest of two South Koreans based in Chinese border city Dandong, accused of spying for ROK’s National Intelligence Service and illegally spreading foreign information within DPRK; ROK denied. UN Human Rights Council 27 March adopted, for twelfth year in a row, resolution condemning DPRK’s human rights violations.
| 1 Apr 2015
DPRK army conducted live-fire ballistic missile exercise into Sea of Japan 2 March; also live-fire surface-to-air missile exercise and Air Force exercise. ROK, U.S. and coalition allies began annual combined and joint military exercises. ROK media quoted anonymous ROK intelligence source 25 Feb saying DPRK conducting conventional high-explosive tests for nuclear weapons, would enable DPRK to conduct higher yield nuclear tests in future. DPRK’s Korean Workers Party held enlarged meeting of Central Military Commission (CMC) 23 Feb; CMC Chairman Kim Jong-un called for “full combat readiness” ahead of ROK-U.S. military exercises, stressed need to simplify and reorganise military. Seoul 17 March announced DPRK behind Dec 2014 cyber-attacks on ROK nuclear reactor operator; DPRK denied. UNSC’s DPRK Sanctions Committee Panel of Experts released report 23 Feb revealing country’s continued efforts to circumvent sanctions against its nuclear and missile programs. Russia and China discussed possible resumption of six-party talks on DPRK nuclear program late April/May. Japan 31 March said it was extending sanctions on DPRK citing lack of progress in talks on release of kidnapped Japanese nationals. ROK and DPRK sparred over Kaesŏng Industrial Complex wages and governance.
| 2 Mar 2015
DPRK 6 Feb flight-tested new anti-ship cruise missile in Sea of Japan; media reports that DPRK flight-tested submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) in Jan unconfirmed. DPRK army continued rigorous winter training program, including live-fire missile exercise and island attack drill near ROK islands off DPRK coast. Growing evidence that DPRK has restarted nuclear reactor in Yŏngbyŏn. ROK military 27 Jan conducted live-fire exercise on islands near DPRK coast. ROK conducted air force exercise, large-scale mobility exercise, combined military exercises and multinational exercises, including with U.S. and others in Thailand and Guam. USS Olympia nuclear-powered submarine 5 Feb participated in three-day ROK-U.S. combined naval exercise, commemorating inauguration of ROK Navy submarine command. ROK and Chinese defence ministers early Feb discussed bilateral security cooperation, during first visit by Chinese defence minister in nine years; China expressed opposition toward U.S. deployment of THAAD missile defence battery to ROK. DPRK Workers Party Politburo 10 Feb adopted resolution with six main points: Central Committee and the Central Military Commission met next day and published list of over 300 slogans in mass appeal for national exhortation to achieve goals outlined in Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s address. UN 24 Jan announced it would provide $2mn in aid to DPRK through Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). U.S. think-tank report published late Feb projected DPRK could have up to 100 nuclear weapons by 2020.
| 2 Feb 2015
ROK Ministry of National Defence 6 Jan issued biennial Defence White Paper asserting that DPRK nuclear threat is increasing. ROK 19 Jan announced plan to develop advanced weapons and reconnaissance satellites to enhance defence capabilities and counter evolving DPRK security threats. Defence officials from U.S., Japan and ROK late Dec signed military agreement to share intelligence on DPRK nuclear and missile threats. Cyber security threats and countermeasures fallout continued. New York Timesreported that U.S. National Security Agency penetrated DPRK computer networks, has had access to them since 2010. Nov attacks on Sony Pictures attributed to Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB) and Bureau 121, said to have about 6,000 hackers; many attacks said to originate in China. U.S. 2 Jan imposed additional economic sanctions against RGB for cyber operations, also two other DPRK entities, Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation and Korea Tangun Trading Corporation, and ten DPRK individuals, sanctioned for illicit arms sales and procurement activities. North Korean army deserter crossed Chinese border and killed four people in Yanbian prefecture 27 Dec before being shot dead by Chinese police. ROK’s Joongang Ilbo 8 Jan reported KPA has developed seven-day war plan.
| 5 Jan 2015
U.S. blamed DPRK for major cyberattack on Sony Pictures 1 Dec, allegedly in response to launch of comedy movie featuring DPRK regime; President Obama said U.S. would “respond proportionally”. DPRK denied role in attack, proposed joint investigation, later blamed U.S. for several internet blackouts in DPRK. UNGA 18 Dec passed resolution calling for UNSC to refer DPRK’s alleged human rights violations to ICC. UNSC 22 Dec discussed human rights situation in DPRK. ROK 29 Dec offered to resume high-level talks with DPRK; DPRK leader Kim Jong-un in New Year’s address said open to talks. DPRK military continued winter military training, described by ROK military sources as “unusually intensive”. DPRK denied involvement in hack of ROK nuclear power operator late Dec.
| 1 Dec 2014
UN human rights committee 18 Nov passed resolution calling on UNSC to refer DPRK to ICC for alleged crimes against humanity, following Feb UN report; resolution also called on SC to consider targeted sanctions against those responsible. Pyongyang 20 Nov responded threatening to conduct nuclear test, accused U.S. of being behind resolution, which it called “grave political provocation”. Comes after DPRK official in Oct denied existence of prison camps. Satellite images emerged indicating new activity at DPRK’s Yongbyon nuclear facility. Pyongyang sent high-level envoy Ch’oe Ryong-hae to Moscow where he met with President Putin; part of DPRK’s efforts to reach out to Russia amid souring of relations with China. Afterwards, Russian FM Lavrov said Pyongyang ready to return to six-party talks without preconditions. Lavrov called 18 Nov UN resolution confrontational, counterproductive. Two U.S. citizens released from detention in DPRK early Nov. ROK staged annual Hoguk joint military exercise, and combined airforce exercise with U.S.; DPRK reportedly began winter military exercises. ROK official early Nov reportedly said DPRK has launched new submarine capable of firing ballistic missiles.
| 1 Nov 2014
DPRK leader Kim Jong-Un 14 Oct returned to public view after40-day disappearance, missing several important national events including 10 Oct anniversary of Korean Workers Party; state media remained silent amid intense speculation about Kim’s health. Satellite images released 1 Oct showed DPRK completed upgrade of Sohae satellite launch station near border with China to facilitate larger projectiles. DPRK 20 Oct said aiming to enhance nuclear capability; U.S. General Curtis Scaparotti 24 Oct suggested DPRK capable of building nuclear warhead. High-ranking DPRK delegation, led by Vice Chairman of National Defence Commission Hwang Pyong So, 4 Oct unexpectedly attended closing ceremony of Asian Games in Inch’ŏn, ROK, part of reported DPRK diplomatic offensive. DPRK, ROK naval ships 7 Oct traded fire in Yellow (West)Sea after DPRK ship violated Northern Limit Line; ROK military 13 Oct pledged deployment of additional armament to islands near border. DPRK 10 Oct fired at activist-launched balloons carrying anti-DPRK leaflets; two rounds fell into ROKborder town near demilitarised zone. ROK soldiers 18 Oct fired warning shots at approximately 10 DPRK troops approaching military demarcation line nearCh’ŏrwŏn, no return fire; similar incident reported near Paju 19 Oct leading to exchange of fire.
| 1 Oct 2014
DPRK continued missile testing: 1 Sept fired short-range missile from north-western Chagang province near China, 6 Sept fired three short-range projectiles from east coast near Wŏnsan; projectiles landed in Sea of Japan. Republic of Korea (ROK) navy 19 Sept fired warning shots at DPRK vessel crossing North Limit Line (NLL). Month saw extensive international diplomatic engagement by DPRK including: Kang Sok Ju Korean Workers Party (KWP) Secretary for International Affairs 7-16 Sept led delegation to Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy; tour followed by 18 Sept visit to Mongolia, met President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj and other senior officials; FM Ri Su-yong 14 Sept met Iranian FM Javad Zarif in Tehran, 21 Sept addressed UN General Assembly in New York. U.S. citizen Matthew Todd Miller sentenced to six years hard labour 14 Sept.
| 1 Sep 2014
DPRK 14 Aug test-fired 5 missiles appearing to be new short-range tactical ballistic missiles China and Russia voiced opposition to possible U.S. Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile defence battery in ROK after Han Min-koo, supportive of THAAD, 30 July replaced Kim Kwan-jin as ROK defence minister. 50,000 ROK troops and 30,000 U.S. troops 18 Aug began UN Command (UNC) and Combined Forces Command (CFC) multinational and combined military exercise; DPRK criticised exercise, threatened retaliation.
| 1 Aug 2014
Korean People’s Army (KPA) conducted ballistic tests throughout month: 2 Hwasŏng missiles fired 9 July 40km from demilitarised zone (DMZ); 2 more fired 13 July near Kaesŏng city; 100 artillery shells fired into Sea of Japan 14 July, only few hundred meters from DMZ. KPA 5 July conducted joint ground, naval, air, and air-defence exercises, simulating assault on ROK island. ROK and U.S. 16 July conducted 5-day naval exercise in ROK south-western sea despite DPRK protest; 21 July held 2-day trilateral exercise with Japan south of Cheju Island. DPRK launched “peace offensive”: state-media called for end to confrontation with ROK. ROK announced 3 billion won for NGO projects in DPRK, first use of state funds for NGOs in DPRK since 2010 imposition of sanctions. Delegation of 38 ROK officials and corporate representatives visited DPRK 15-22 July to conduct survey for potential ROK investment in Russia-DPRK railway link to DPRK north-eastern port city of Rajin. DPRK and Japan 1 July held talks, agreed on lifting Japanese sanctions in return for investigation into fate of Japanese nationals abducted by DPRK agents. Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) 18 July unanimously accepted DPRK as observer.
| 1 Jul 2014
DPRK propaganda video released early June showed footage of launch of improved anti-ship missiles apparently identical to Russian-made KH-35 model. DPRK 26 June fired three projectiles from Wosan, landed in ocean. ROK Six-Party Talks negotiator Hwang Joon-kook met with U.S., Chinese and Russian counterparts in efforts to restart dialogue; DPRK newspaper Rondong Sinmun 16 June said nuclear arms programs not part of political negotiation. DPRK govt delegation led by FM Ri Su-yong 18 June met Syrian President Assad, discussed DPRK-Syria cooperation, economic development and reconstruction. U.S.-ROK talks held 16-17 June, discussed transfer of wartime operational control of ROK troops from Washington to Seoul, slated for Dec 2015. ROK PM nominee Moon Chang-keuk 24 Jun withdrew candidacy in light of alleged “pro-Japanese” comments in 2011; Chung Hong-won retained as PM despite 27 April attempted resignation following Sewol ferry disaster. ROK Navy 20 June conducted live-fire exercises near disputed Tokto/Takeshima islands despite protestation from Japan.
| 1 Jun 2014
Joint U.S.-ROK investigation 9 May concluded 3 drones found late March near demilitarised zone from DPRK; DPRK state media decried accusations as “charade for confrontation”. Pyongyang 10 May renewed threat of nuclear testing. U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper 14 May met ROK Defence Minister Kim Kwan-jin, reportedly discussed DPRK escalating rhetoric. Chinese FM Wang Yi visited ROK counterpart Yun Byung-se 26 May, agreed to increase cooperation on opposition to DPRK’s nuclear testing. DPRK fishing boats turned away with warning shots by ROK coastguard 20 May after crossing maritime border; DPRK military 22 May exchanged fire with South Korea warship across disputed sea border. Japanese and DPRK delegations finished talks 28 May in Stockholm aimed at lifting sanctions in return for investigation into abduction of Japanese citizens in 1970s and 1980s; missile and nuclear tests also on agenda; DPRK agreed to reopen investigation into abductions, both parties agreed to further meetings. High-rise apartment collapse in Pyongyang rumoured to have caused up to 500 deaths; DPRK media reported public apologies by senior officials. ROK President Park continued major govt shake-up in wake of Sewŏl ferry disaster.
| 1 May 2014
2 drones of alleged DPRK origin found on ROK territory late March, sparking concerns over ROK air defence and DPRK intelligence gathering capabilities; ROK defence ministry responded unveiling 2 of its own drones. U.S. and ROK 18 April completed Foal Eagle joint and combined field exercises in ROK, also conducted amphibious landing training, large combined air exercise. ROK 4 April successfully flight-tested new ballistic missile capable of striking all DPRK territory. DPRK again conducted live-fire drill near disputed western sea border with ROK 29 April. DPRK’s newly elected Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) held first meeting 9 April; Kim Jong-un re-elected as first chairman of National Defence Commission (NDC); Ch’oe Ryong-hae elected vice chairman of NDC, position previously held by purged Chang Sŏng-t’aek. ROK President Park delivered speech in Germany 28 March laying out proposals to pave way towards peaceful unification of Korea; DPRK NDC spokesman later lashed out at Park’s speech. Beijing responded to DPRK’s 30 March threat of “new type of nuclear test” to further strengthen nuclear deterrence with public warning that China does not support DPRK’s “threat of a nuclear test”. Satellite imagery released late April indicating new activity at DPRK’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site.
| 1 Apr 2014
Exchange of fire across disputed western sea border between ROK and DPRK 31 March after latter fired 500 artillery shells near Northern Limit Line (NLL) with 100 rounds falling south of NLL. ROK retuned 300 rounds into disputed waters. Earlier in month DPRK launched rockets and missiles into Sea of Japan, including 9 short-range missiles 3-4 March, 46 rockets 22-23 March, 2 medium-range Nodong missiles 26 March. Nodong launches, first since 2009, occurred hours after trilateral U.S.-Japan-ROK summit. UNSC condemned launches, ROK urged DPRK to refrain from provocative actions. DPRK 30 March threatened to carry out “new form of nuclear test”. DPRK leader Kim Jong-un 9 March won first Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) elections under his rule with 100% of vote. Chinese FM Wang Yi 8 March called for resumption of six-party talks, declared “red line” on DPRK saying war or chaos on peninsula is unacceptable. Chinese nuclear envoy 17 March visited DPRK, first visit by Chinese official since Dec purge of Chang Sŏng-t’aek. U.S. President Obama and Chinese President Xi 25 March disagreed over when to resume six-party talks. Japan, DPRK resumed high-level talks over normalisation of relations, abductions of Japanese citizens 30-31 March. UN DPRK sanctions committee 11 March reported DPRK circumventing sanctions.
| 1 Mar 2014
DPRK and ROK held first high-level talks in 7 years 12-14 Feb in P’anmunjŏm border village; reaffirmed plans for family reunions that took place 20-25 Feb in DPRK’s Mt. Kŭmgang resort. U.S. Sec State Kerry visited Seoul 13-14 Feb to discuss DPRK policies, during Beijing visit urged China to exert greater pressure on DPRK; China reiterated commitment to denuclearisation “through peaceful dialogue”. U.S. and ROK 24 Feb commenced annual multinational simulation exercise Key Resolve and large-scale joint and combined field exercises Foal Eagle; DPRK 27 Feb fired 4 short-range missiles into sea off east coast. UN Commission of Inquiry 17 Feb released report on DPRK human rights abuses, in letter to Kim Jung-un warned him of possible prosecution at ICC; DPRK and China rejected report findings. Satellite images showed DPRK has expanded primary its Sŏhae Satellite Launching Station creating potential ability to launch larger rockets.
| 1 Feb 2014
Amid moves to consolidate Kim Jong-un’s control following Dec execution of his uncle Chang Sŏng-t’aek, reports emerged Chang’s extended family also executed in Dec. Kim’s New Year message referred to uncle’s purge, economy, called for improved inter-Korean relations. DPRK 16 Jan referred to annual U.S.-ROK combined military drills planned Feb-April as prelude to war, 17 Jan called on ROK to end “all acts of provocation and slander”. ROK President Park 18 Jan ordered “airtight security” against DPRK. DPRK 24 Jan sent open letter to ROK calling for reconciliation and end to hostile acts; ROK asked DPRK to prove sincerity through action. DPRK 24 Jan accepted ROK’s proposal to reschedule cancelled family reunions, but failed to respond to ROK’s proposed dates of 17-22 Feb. ROK completed live-fire exercise on 2 north-western islands without incident despite DPRK warnings. ROK 15 Jan approved $400,000 in private humanitarian assistance to DPRK. U.S. announced sending 800 more troops, 40 battle tanks and armoured vehicles to ROK in Feb. After months of negotiations ROK agreed to pay $866mn for maintenance of U.S. troops in ROK as part of new Burden Sharing Agreement, 5.8% increase over 2013.
| 2 Jan 2014
Chang Sŏng-t’aek, uncle by marriage and political guardian of Kim Jong-un, stripped of positions of power 8 Dec, arrested and executed 12 Dec; 2 of his close allies executed mid-Nov. International community expressed concern over stability of DPRK following execution; S Korean President Park said purge is part of “reign of terror” that could inflame tensions on peninsula. DPRK 3 Dec threatened to build up nuclear deterrence capabilities. ROK expressed “regret and anger” over Japanese PM Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine 26 Dec (see China/Japan). ROK, U.S. and UK held previously planned combined naval drills around Korean Peninsula 8-9 Dec. ROK 10 Dec decided to increase maritime combat capabilities against “possible provocation”’ from DPRK. ROK intelligence official 17 Dec said there are signs DPRK is preparing to conduct 4th nuclear test and long-range missile test. U.S. tourist and Korean War veteran detained during Oct visit released 7 Dec. Delegations from N and S Korea met to discuss normalisation and expansion of Kaesŏng Industrial Complex (KIC), which hosted visit by delegations from G-20 countries and international financial institutions 19 Dec, part of ROK effort to “internationalise” KIC. U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman 19-23 Dec made 3rd visit to DPRK in 2013 to train N Korean players. Russia tightened sanctions against DPRK 2 Dec.
| 1 Dec 2013
Continued diplomacy on resumption of six-party talks aimed at denuclearisation of DPRK: Chinese envoy for Korean Peninsula affairs Wu Dawei visited Pyongyang 4 Nov. ROK chief nuclear negotiator Cho Tae-yong 7 Nov held talks with U.S. and Japanese counterparts in Washington, parties agreed DPRK must take concrete steps to dismantle atomic program for talks to resume; Cho later met with Wu in Beijing. U.S. DPRK envoy Glyn Davies travelled to Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo. Chinese state councillor Yang Jiechi visited Seoul 19-22 Nov, together with ROK Director of National Security reiterated joint commitment to ease tensions in peninsula. Signs of possible shift in Seoul’s stance towards DPRK, with ROK unification minister 1 Nov saying govt considers lifting ‘’24 May sanctions’’ preventing economic relations between Koreas; President Park said in interview she is open to talks with DPRK leader Kim Jong-un. Pyongyang issued aggressive statements towards ROK presidential office on third anniversary of its shelling of ROK’s Yŏnp’yŏng Island 23 Nov. IAEA 28 Nov said it was “seriously concerned” about activity observed at Yongbyon nuclear complex consistent with effort to restart reactor.
| 1 Nov 2013
U.S. and ROK 2 Oct signed tailored deterrence agreement during annual Security Consultative Meeting reaffirming military alliance; DPRK reacted putting army on ”high alert”. Seoul 1 Oct staged largest military parade in decades, displaying recently deployed ballistic and cruise missiles; President Park spoke of “very grave” threat from DPRK. ROK, U.S. and Japan 10-11 Oct held combined naval drill; Pyongyang criticised as highly provocative. At “1.5-track diplomacy” meeting between DPRK officials and U.S. experts in London 1-2 Oct, Pyongyang stressed desire to return to six-party talks. China and ROK 21 Oct announced renewed bilateral cooperation amid growing nuclear threats from Pyongyang. Pyongyang 22 Oct claimed U.S. openly threatening DPRK, warned it could react with war. ROK and DPRK 23 Oct signed follow-up deal covering operation of Kaesong Industrial Complex. DPRK Foreign Ministry 24 Oct said country will not take steps towards nuclear disarmament. Increased activity reported at main underground nuclear test site Punggye-ri in NE. Pyongyang 25 Oct released 6 S Korean detainees.
| 1 Oct 2013
“Track 1.5” talks on DPRK nuclear issues commenced 18 Sept in Beijing with attendance of DPRK First Vice FM Kim Kye-gwan and chief DPRK 6-Party Talks negotiator Ri Yong-ho. ROK and U.S. sent former officials and academics, withholding official participation pending indication of DPRK’s intent to denuclearise. Kim Kye-gwan, DPRK’s first vice FM and chief nuclear negotiator, called for resumption of talks without preconditions. 31 Aug satellite imagery appeared to indicate 5MW(e) nuclear reactor in Yŏngbyŏn has been restarted. Kaesŏng Industrial Complex (KIC) reopened 16 Sept after 5 months’ inactivity, including 90 of 123 S Korean firms’ factories, some 32,000 N Koreans reportedly returning to work; negotiations continue over access, procedures. Pyongyang suddenly cancelled scheduled DPRK-ROK family reunion, first in 3 years, only 4 days before it was to occur late Sept. U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman visited DPRK for second time 3-7 Sept, spent 2 days with leader Kim Jong-un and family, other senior leaders. UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) allocated some $2.1m aid following reports of heavy flood damage in DPRK.
| 1 Sep 2013
DPRK and ROK 14 Aug agreed on steps to reopen Kaesŏng Industrial Complex (KIC), closed for over 4 months, after Pyongyang offered to resume talks 7 Aug in response to ultimatum from Seoul. Under 5-point accord, sides will meet again “in the near future” to form new joint committee to work out additional details, set timeline. Pyongyang and Seoul 23 Aug agreed to hold reunions of separated families 25-30 Sept, first since Oct 2010; also agreed to hold video conference reunions in Oct, more reunions in Nov. Pyongyang 20 Aug proposed talks to reopen Mt. Kŭmgang tourism project, closed since July 2008. Seoul 27 Aug proposed talks be held 2 Oct after conclusion of family visit and Ch’usŏk holiday; Pyongyang has not yet accepted. ROK-U.S. carried out combined and multinational military exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) 19-30 Aug, involving 30,000 U.S. and 50,000 ROK troops, 7 United Nations Command (UNC) countries. DPRK cancelled planned visit by U.S envoy. Exports from China to North Korea decreased 13.6% in first half of 2013 compared with same period 2012.
| 1 Aug 2013
Panama 16 July announced it had detained DPRK ship carrying concealed weapons from Cuba. Cuban govt said cargo was “obsolete defensive armaments” being sent to DPRK for repair. Shipment violates UN sanctions that ban almost all DPRK arms imports and all DPRK exports of arms and military services. DPRK and ROK held further talks on reopening Kaesŏng Industrial Complex (KIC) but failed to reach agreement. More than 170 South Koreans 12 July travelled to KIC to inspect facilities and retrieve raw materials and goods. DPRK leader Kim Jong-un held talks with visiting Chinese VP Li Yuanchao 25 July. Pyongyang 27 July staged large-scale military parade on 60th anniversary of Korean War Armistice. ROK 16 July accused DPRK of cyber-attacks on ROK govt and private websites. Anonymous South Korean official 30 June revealed DPRK is deploying improved artillery along DMZ with ROK.
| 1 Jul 2013
DPRK and ROK held working-level talks in Panmunjŏm border village 9 June, but high-level talks planned for 12-13 June aimed at normalising operations in Kaesŏng Industrial Complex (KIC) and resuming inter-Korean tourism at Mt. Kŭmgang called off 11 June after disagreement over delegations. DPRK 7 June restored Red Cross hotline with ROK, but cut it 12 June. DPRK National Defence Commission 16 June proposed high-level talks with U.S. over regional security, senior U.S. official 17 June said talks will happen after DPRK proves willingness to commit to denuclearisation. U.S.-Korea Institute 3 June released report stating satellite imagery proves DPRK Yŏngbyŏn reactor could be restarted in 2-3 months. DPRK deputy FM 19 June met Chinese vice FM in Beijing, signalled willingness to restart talks. DPRK’s UN ambassador 21 June said United Nations Command must be disbanded and DPRK will not give up nuclear weapons as long as U.S. nuclear threat exists, demanded UN end sanctions. ROK and U.S. 3-5 June held talks to extend pact on civil nuclear power in ROK, ROK asked for possibility of producing own nuclear fuel; no agreement. ROK, U.S. and Japan Defence Ministers 1 June met in Singapore, issued joint statement underlining DPRK nuclear threat, confirming defence cooperation.
| 1 Jun 2013
DPRK special envoy Vice Marshal Ch’oe Ryong-hae visited China 22-25 May; Chinese media reported DPRK agreed to return to nuclear disarmament talks, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said denuclearised Korean peninsula is goal of all parties. DPRK fired projectiles into Sea of Japan 18-21 May, believed to be testing new long-range artillery rocket, sparking heavy criticism though not violating UNSC resolutions. ROK President Park met with U.S. President Obama 7 May; both expressed shared interest in strengthening bilateral alliance and tailored deterrence against DPRK, said open to talks. USS Nimitz carrier group visited ROK early May to participate in combined exercises with ROK navy. UN Panel of Experts 12 May said sanctions have not halted DPRK nuclear program, but have “choked off significant funding”. State-owned Bank of China 7 May closed accounts of DPRK Foreign Trade Bank, consistent with UNSCR 2096. DPRK 12 May appointed General Chang Jong-nam as new defence minister, General Kim Kyok-sik as chief of general staff. DPRK and ROK remain at impasse over resuming operations at Kaesŏng Industrial Complex (KIC); last 7 ROK managers returned to South 3 May after Seoul delivered $13 million to settle accounts for unpaid wages, taxes. DPRK 28 May invited managers to join talks to reopen complex, ROK rejected offer. UN appointed 3 special investigators to investigate alleged rights violations in DPRK. DPRK court sentenced Korean American Kenneth Bae to 15 years’ labour for crimes against state.
| 1 May 2013
DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly 1 April passed legislation declaring DPRK to be “full-fledged nuclear weapons state”. Pyongyang 3 April suspended operations at ROK-DPRK jointly-operated Kaesŏng Industrial Complex (KIC), in continued war rhetoric 5 April notified foreign diplomatic missions in Pyongyang that it “would be difficult to guarantee security after 10 April”. Amid celebrations for former leader Kim Il-sung’s birthday, DPRK 15 April warned strike on ROK “would start without notice”. DPRK General Department of Atomic Energy 2 April announced plan to restart Yŏngbyŏn nuclear reactor. DPRK continued military manoeuvres and exercises, 21 April moved 2 missile launchers to east coast. ROK Unification Ministry 25 April proposed talks with DPRK on KIC, warning refusal would entail “grave measures”; DPRK 26 April refused talks, calling offer “deceptive”, leading ROK to withdraw all remaining South Koreans except 7 to “negotiate unpaid wages and fees”. U.S. Sec State Kerry 14 April said DPRK denuclearisation necessary as first step towards “peace talks”; DPRK 18 April declared suspension of UN sanctions, permanent end to U.S.-ROK combined military exercises as condition for reopening of negotiations, 22 April demanded recognition as “nuclear weapons state”. ROK President Park 11 April urged DPRK to join inter-Korean dialogue. DPRK 16 April requested food aid from Mongolia.
| 1 Apr 2013
UNSC 7 March unanimously passed resolution 2094 strengthening sanctions on DPRK in response to 12 Feb nuclear test; hours before UNSC vote, DPRK vowed to carry out pre-emptive nuclear strike on HQ of invaders, implying United Nations Command (UNC) HQ in Seoul. DPRK military and govt said would no longer be bound by 1953 Korean War armistice as of 11 March. DPRK 11 March cut hotline with UN Military Armistice Commission and Red Cross hotline with South Korea, 26 March ordered all its rocket and long-range artillery units to be combat-ready and targeting U.S. bases in region and U.S. territory. U.S. Sec Defence Hagel 15 March declared U.S. to deploy 14 more missile defence interceptors in Alaska in view of DPRK threats. DPRK conducted large-scale joint military exercise while U.S. and ROK 1 March-30 April conducting large-scale joint and combined field exercise Foal Eagle and UNC combined simulation exercise Key Resolve 11-21 March. U.S. and ROK 22 March signed agreement defining roles for retaliation against DPRK military provocations. U.S. deployed stealth bomber aircraft over ROK. DPRK 27 March cut off remaining military hotline with ROK, 30 March said it was entering “state of war” with ROK, may shut down Kaesong industrial park. At rare Central Committee meeting 31 March leader Kim Jung-un announced “new line” to increase nuclear arsenal and develop economy simultaneously; meeting declared nuclear weapons are non-negotiable, DPRK’s nuclear status should be written into law. ROK President Park 1 April said any provocation from DPRK should be met with “strong response”. UN HRC 21 March approved formal investigation into DPRK for crimes against humanity. Former U.S. National Basketball Association player Dennis Rodman 28 Feb-2 March visited DPRK, met Kim Jong-un, sparking heavy criticism within U.S.
| 1 Mar 2013
DPRK 12 Feb conducted 3rd nuclear test at Punggye-ri underground test site, in reaction to 22 Jan UNSC Resolution 2087 condemning its 12 Dec satellite launch. DPRK media described test as “high-level, safe, perfect nuclear test with no negative environmental impact”. UNSC held emergency talks, UNSG Ban condemned test as “deeply destabilising”. U.S. President Obama said test was threat and provocation, U.S. would lead world in responding. Russia, China condemned test, 22 Feb said would oppose foreign military intervention in North Korea. ROK declared emergency mode, raised security alert level, 7 Feb said would launch pre-emptive strike if there were clear signs of imminent nuclear attack from DPRK, 14 Feb unveiled cruise missile allegedly capable of hitting office of DPRK leaders; President-elect Park declared ROK “will not tolerate a nuclear-armed North Korea”. EU imposed financial sanctions. DPRK 6 Feb threatened to close inter-Korean Kaesŏng Industrial Complex, turn into military base, 10 Feb test-fired short-range ballistic missile. DPRK ambassador to UN Conference on Disarmament 19 Feb threatened South Korea with “final destruction”. ROK, U.S. 4-6 Feb conducted combined naval exercise; ROK 14 Feb began large-scale live fire military drills, including combined aerial exercise with U.S.; ROK, U.S. 19 Feb began combined anti-submarine warfare exercise; DPRK condemned drill as “explicit act of invasion”. DPRK 23 Feb said U.S. forces would “meet a miserable destruction” if scheduled military drills with ROK used to attack DPRK. ROK’s Park urged DPRK to abandon its nuclear ambitions, stop wasting scarce resources on arms.
| 1 Feb 2013
UNSC 22 Jan unanimously passed resolution condemning DPRK’s 12 Dec satellite launch and expanding existing sanctions against Pyongyang; DPRK condemned resolution, announced plans to carry out further rocket launches and nuclear test; threatened to attack ROK if they participated in new UN sanctions. ROK analysis of launch debris found in Yellow Sea showed many components of launcher produced in DPRK. ROK 30 Jan launched satellite into space. Kim Jong-un’s New Year message broadcast on state TV; called for building economic power, strong military, end to hostile relationship with ROK. UNHCHR Navi Pillay 14 Jan called for international investigation into DPRK human rights violations. ROK reported number of defectors from DPRK dropped by nearly half in 2012. Delegation led by former U.S. governor Bill Richardson and including Google chief Eric Schmidt visited DPRK 7-10 Jan; Washington criticised timing of visit.
| 30 Dec 2012
DPRK 12 Dec sucessfully launched Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3 North Korea satellite into orbit, violating UNSC Resolutions 1718, 1874, which prohibit DPRK from launches using ballistic missile technology. Launch condemned by U.S., UNSC, Russia; China expressed regret, urged sides to refrain from actions that could worsen relations. Satellite reportedly malfunctioning. In ROK, Conservative Saenuri Party’s Park Kŭn-hye won 19 Dec presidential elections; Park seeks to re-engage with DPRK. DPRK continued to purge officials, reshuffle senior military officers; mid-Dec demoted vice marshal Ch’oi Ryong-hae. First anniversary of Kim Jong-il’s death commemorated 16 Dec in mass rally in Pyongyang.
| 1 Dec 2012
DPRK 1 Dec announced planned launch of long-range rocket carrying a satellite between 10 and 22 Dec; follows speculation that country planning missile test in violation of UNSC resolutions. Pyongyang 22 Nov threatened to shell Yŏnp’yŏng island ahead of ROK military drill on 2-yr anniversary of DPRK attack there. DPRK vessels crossed NLL at least twice in late October. U.S. President Obama during 20 Nov speech in Myanmar called for DPRK to negotiate denuclearisation. ROK activists behind Oct launch of balloons with propaganda leaflets into DPRK 15 Nov announced they would halt balloon launches until after election. DPRK media late month reported messages from Kim Jong-un read out at senior meetings of police and judiciary calling for elimination of rebellious people attempting to “destroy our unity”. FAO/ WFP special report on DPRK food security reported improved harvests this year, but approx 207,000 tons shortfall predicted next year. Media reported that in May ROK seized DPRK-made graphite cylinders bound for Syria in Chinese freighter in Pusan; parts reportedly can be used as missile components. IAEA director general 29 Nov reported DPRK had made progress in construction of an atomic reactor.
| 1 Nov 2012
Tensions mounted on Korean peninsula against backdrop of rising nationalism in the region. ROK 7 Oct announced deal with U.S. to extend ballistic missile system range; Pyongyang responded with claim it has missiles that could reach U.S. mainland. DPRK 19 Oct threatened military action against ROK if S Korean rights activists dropped propaganda leaflets in DPRK; activists carried out airdrop of 120,000 leaflets 22 Oct despite ROK police attempts to block them, and released further 50,000 leaflets 29 Oct. Seoul commenced annual Hoguk joint military exercise 25 Oct, involving 240,000 personnel; ROK satellite launch, planned for late Oct, postponed till Nov. DPRK Army Vice-Minister Kim Chol reportedly executed for misbehaviour during official mourning period after Kim Jong-Il’s death.
| 1 Oct 2012
Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) held rare second annual session 25 Sept but no announcement of anticipated reform measures. Govt 12 Sept rejected ROK offer of emergency food, medicines, despite predictions food insecurity to worsen following Aug floods which killed some 300. ROK patrol boats 21 Sept fired warning shots at N Korean fishing vessels in contested waters in Yellow Sea. Russia 18 Sept agreed to write off 90% of N Korea’s debt, invest in country. Iraq 21 Sept refused permission to N Korean plane bound for Syria to pass through its airspace on suspicion it could be carrying weapons.
| 1 Sep 2012
High profile meetings held between China, DPRK officials: Kim Jong-un 2 Aug met with International Dept of Chinese Communist Party Central Committee director to discuss strengthening relations; DPRK delegation led by Chang Sŏng-t’aek, Kim Jong-un’s uncle, visited China mid-Aug, reached agreement on 3 special economic zones in DPRK. ROK, U.S. held combined military exercise 20-31 Aug; Kim Jong-un 25 Aug said had studied, signed full-scale “counter-attack operational plan” in case “enemies fly even a bit of a spark” into DPRK territory. DPRK 3 Aug officially requested flood aid from UN. DPRK, Japan talks 29-30 Aug to discuss repatriation of Japanese soldiers’ remains, “various pending issues” ended without progress. DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly head Kim Yong-nam late Aug attended Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran.
| 1 Aug 2012
DPRK 20 July said it was re-examining its nuclear program due to U.S. hostility. Vice Marshal Ri Yong-ho relieved of post in ruling Korean Workers’ Party 15 July; replaced by Hyon Yong-chol. Kim Jong-un appointed 17 July as marshal of army.
| 1 Jul 2012
DPRK 9 June accused ROK of attempting to provoke govt into conducting nuclear test, 17 June criticised 14 June comments by U.S. Secretary of State Clinton urging Kim Jong-un to chart different course to father Kim Jong-il. Clinton, U.S. Defense Secretary Panetta 14 June hosted talks with ROK counterparts; U.S. President Obama 18 June extended sanctions against DPRK. U.S., Japan, South Korea 21 June began joint naval exercises near China, Korean Peninsula; DPRK called drills “reckless”, said they could lead to nuclear war, called use of its flag during drills “a grave provocative act”. ROK 28 June announced plans to sign treaty with Japan to encourage sharing of military data on DPRK. 29 June report by UN Panel of Experts said DPRK continuing to actively defy UN sanction resolutions.
| 1 Jun 2012
DPRK 22 May vowed to strengthen nuclear deterrent after U.S. threatened further sanctions if regime fails to abandon nuclear program. U.S., EU, ROK, Japan 1 May submitted list of some 40 DPRK companies to UNSC sanctions committee for possible blacklisting; 3 DPRK state-owned companies added to list 2 May. Japan vice-FM Hamada 2 May urged DPRK against further provocation; UNSC P5 urged DPRK to refrain from nuclear tests. DPRK officials 17 May demanded payment for release of Chinese fishing boats, 29 crew, 22 May released fishermen. Pictures purportedly showing signs of activity at new North Korea rocket launch facilities published 22 May. DPRK revised Constitution published 30 May proclaimed status as nuclear-armed state.
| 1 May 2012
Amid signs of increasing belligerence, DPRK 13 April attempted but failed to launch Unha-3 rocket to coincide with 100th birthday of Kim Il-sung; UNSC condemned attempt, warned of further action if nuclear test carried out; U.S. cancelled planned food aid and 20 April revealed suspicions China sold missile launcher technology to DPRK; DPRK 17 April announced it is no longer bound by U.S. “leap day” agreement. Kim Jong-un 15 April gave first public speech, reaffirmed military priorities; KPA Supreme Command 23 April announced intentions to initiate “special actions” to destroy ROK, president, mass media firms. KWP 21 April held talks with Chinese Communist Party international department chief, President Hu. China State Councillor Dai Bingguo praised Kim Jong-un, vowed to deepen ties with DPRK. Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun 18 April reported that China had ceased deportations of DPRK defectors.
| 1 Apr 2012
DPRK 16 March announced plans to launch satellite by long-range rocket next month; UNSG Ban urged DPRK to reconsider launch, China expressed concerns, Japan said it will intercept rocket if necessary; U.S. 28 March confirmed suspension of food aid planned in “leap day” agreement. IAEA 16 March received invite from DPRK to visit.
| 1 Mar 2012
DPRK 29 Feb agreed to moratorium on nuclear tests, long-range missile launches, to allow nuclear inspectors to visit Yongbyon nuclear complex, U.S. to send food aid. U.S. Ambassador Glyn Davies and DPRK First Vice FM Kim Kye-gwan met 23-24 Feb, discussed food aid, nuclear program; no agreement for further 6-party talks. 20 Feb ROK conducted live-fire military drills from islands near disputed sea boundary with DPRK despite Pyongyang’s threat of retaliation. DPRK 16 Feb commemorated Kim Jong-il’s 70th birthday. U.S., ROK 27 Feb began Key Resolve joint military exercises; DPRK threatened “sacred war” in response.
| 1 Feb 2012
DPRK Joint New Year’s Editorial emphasised unity, support for succession, adherence to “military first” policy line following 30 Dec warning it would not soften position on ROK govt. Top U.S., ROK, Japan officials 17 Jan met to discuss resuming stalled 6-party talks. Kim Jong-nam, brother of new leader Kim Jong-un, reportedly described succession as “joke”, predicted new regime’s collapse.
| 2 Dec 2011
State television 19 Dec announced death 2 days earlier of Kim Jong-il; youngest son Kim Jong-un declared “great successor”. Funeral took place 28 Dec. Prior to announcement of Kim Jong-il’s death, DPRK 19 Dec reportedly test-fired short-range missile on eastern coast. UNSG Ban expressed sympathy to N Korean people, said UN would continue providing assistance. China endorsed new leader, invited him to visit China. U.S. 20 Dec laid out conditions for improved relations with DPRK, stated hopes for progress on denuclearisation, said U.S. continuing with discussions on resuming food aid. U.S. Congress 14 Dec passed legislation introducing sanctions against countries or companies that help DPRK pursue nuclear, chemical or biological weapons or missile programs.
| 1 Dec 2011
ROK 23 Nov conducted large air and sea drills near Yŏnp’yŏng Island, attacked by DPRK Nov 2010; DPRK Supreme Command 24 Nov threatened to turn Seoul’s presidential palace into “sea of fire”. ROK taking some steps to improve inter-Korean relations: approved resumption of medical assistance to North via WHO, delivered children’s vaccines to North, announced suspension of balloon-drops of propaganda leaflets; unification minister Yu U-ik 5 Nov told UNSG Ban Seoul would consider resumption of humanitarian aid through UN. U.S. expressed concern after DPRK 10 Nov announced it would soon start operating new nuclear reactor. Foreign Ministry 30 Nov said DPRK making rapid progress on work to enrich uranium and build light-water nuclear power plant. ROK’s top nuclear envoy 15 Nov held talks with new U.S. envoy Glyn Davies in Vienna to discuss efforts to re-open 6-party talks; Seoul, Japan and U.S. demanding Pyongyang suspend uranium enrichment before talks can resume. Media mid-Nov reported DPRK conducting missile engine static tests, tested new anti-ship missile; has assisted Iran in developing nuclear bomb.
| 1 Dec 2011
During first ministerial-level official visit to China by Taiwanese delegation 23 Nov, led by chairman of Financial Supervisory Commission, officials reached agreement on banking issues.
| 1 Nov 2011
Efforts to re-start 6-party talks continue with several track I and II meetings. U.S and DPRK officials met in Geneva 24-25 Oct with goal of setting nuclear disarmament negotiations back on track, improving relationship. 6 parties attended track II NE Asia cooperation dialogue in Hawaii; DPRK delegation attended track II meeting at University of Georgia, U.S. late Oct. U.S. and DPRK officials met in Bangkok 18 Oct, agreed to resume searches for remains of U.S. military personnel killed in Korean War. ROK President Lee 13 Oct met U.S. President Obama in Washington, 18 Oct met Japanese PM Noda in Seoul, agreed to coordinate N Korea policy. ROK Defence Minister Kim Kwang-jin 19 Oct told lawmakers ROK would fly into DPRK airspace to conduct ground attacks in case of DPRK provocations. U.S. Sec Defence Panetta travelled to Seoul for Security Consultative Meeting 28 Oct, agreed to complete U.S.-ROK combined counter-provocation plan this year. UN SG for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos 24 Oct visited N Korea, insisted aid should not be politicised. Kim Jong-il and China VP Li Keqiang met in N Korea 25 Oct. Delegation of ROK Conference of Religion for Peace visited Pyongyang late Sept. Chair of ROK’s Grand National Party Hong Joon-pyo 30 Sept visited Kaesŏng Industrial Complex; Unification Ministry agreed to re-start infrastructure construction. Annual joint, combined U.S-ROK “Hoguk” military exercise began 27 Oct.
| 1 Oct 2011
Increased speculation over possible resumption
of long-stalled 6-party talks following recent interactions
between N and S Korea. Nuclear envoys from DPRK and ROK
21 Sept met in Beijing for 2nd time in 2 months to discuss talks;
unable to reach agreement on return to talks, but said meeting
useful. Chinese FM Yang Jiechi 19 Sept called for resumption
of talks, however negotiators from ROK, U.S, Japan, Russia,
absent from 19 Sept Beijing forum intended to pave way for
resumption. In sign of possible reconciliation, South replaced
its minister of unification early Sept. IAEA General Conference
19-24 Sept unanimously adopted resolution urging DPRK not
to carry out further nuclear tests. Reports emerged N Korea late
Aug conducted large scale military exercise off west coast. ROK
intelligence service 16 Sept detained man for allegedly plotting
to assassinate ROK anti-DPRK activist.
| 1 Oct 2011
Chinese FM Yang Jiechi 26 Sept met with U.S. Sec State Clinton in New York, urged U.S. to reconsider decision to upgrade Taiwan’s F-16 jet fighter fleet.
| 1 Sep 2011
Following meeting between Kim Jong-il and Russian President Medvedev in Siberia 24 Aug, Kremlin announced DPRK ready to resume 6-party talks without preconditions, consider moratorium on nuclear weapons tests and production. In wake of June-July floods ROK Unification Ministry 10 Aug said ROK Red Cross offered to send $4.8mn food to DPRK, but still no official ROK food aid; Seoul closely monitoring NGO-provided aid. U.S. mid-Aug offered DPRK $900,000 in emergency flood aid, still reviewing request for food aid. Russia 19 Aug made first delivery of expected 50,000 tons of grain to DPRK. ROK military 10 Aug returned fire after North Korean artillery shells fell in waters near ROK’s Yŏnp’yŏng Island; DPRK 11 Aug denied shells were fired. U.S., ROK 16-26 Aug held combined military drill; DPRK called exercise “undisguised military threat”. U.S. and DPRK mid-Aug reportedly discussed possible resumption of search for remains of U.S. military personnel killed during Korean War. German media 24 Aug reported DPRK earlier this year supplied Iran with computer software facilitating building of nuclear weapons.
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