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Inter-Korean Relations

Inter-Korean Exchanges and Cooperation

Inter-Korean Exchanges and Cooperation

Inter-Korean Exchanges and Cooperation

Between September 1990 and October 1992, the two Koreas engaged in a total of eight bilateral meetings, including the first High-Level Talks held in Seoul. In December 1991, the two sides signed the Agreement on Reconciliation, Nonaggression, and Exchanges and Cooperation between the South and the North (also called the Inter-Korean Basic Agreement). The agreement was focused on mutual respect between the two nations, the renunciation of armed aggression, exchange and cooperation in many sectors, and the guarantee of free exchange of people between the two countries.

From the mid-1990s onward, the South’s government continued to provide support to the North, which was continuing to experience serious economic difficulties.

In the period 1999-2007, the South supplied a total of 2.55 million tons of fertilizers to the North in an effort to help the North Korean people who were suffering from a food shortage caused by the inefficiency of the North’s farming system and a lack of fertilizers and chemicals. The Inter-Korean Summits held in 2000 and 2007 provided the momentum for a dramatic invigoration of dialogue, exchange, and cooperation between the two sides. However, the South temporarily suspended the supply of food and fertilizers after the North’s continuing series of provocative actions culminated in the launch of long-range missiles and nuclear tests, but did not stop providing humanitarian support for children or emergency relief aid.

Reunion of Dispersed Family Members

There are about ten million dispersed family members in the two Koreas. The first Inter-Korean Red Cross meeting was held in August 1971 to discuss the possibility of reuniting dispersed family members, but little progress was made due to differences of opinion. The two sides resumed the meeting in the 1980s, and, finally, reciprocal visits materialized. A group of thirty people from the North paid a visit to the South while a group of thirty-five people from the South paid a visit to the North for four days from September 20, 1985. It was a truly significant event after 40 years of division. The two sides also allowed exchanges between groups of artists during the event.

The family reunion became a routine event following the Summit held in 2000, and was subsequently held on eighteen occasions between August 2000 and October 2010. The North provided a special venue at Geumgangsan Mountain for these reunions. In addition, video reunions were carried out on seven different occasions between August of 2005 and November of 2007.

Gaeseong Industrial Complex

The Gaeseong Industrial Complex Project carried out by the North allows private businesses from the South to build factories on leased land in Gaeseong (lease period: 50 years) and produce goods. Gaeseong is the third largest city in the North after Pyongyang and Nampo. The city offers clear advantages to businesses from the South due to its close geographical proximity to the South. Gaseseong is only 8km from Panmunjeom.

Following an initial proposal made in 2000, the project was formally commenced in November 2002 with the North’s promulgation of the Gaeseong Industrial District Act. The work commencement ceremony was held in June 2003, with political and economic celebrities from the two sides in attendance. At present, more than 130 manufacturers from the South and their subcontractors are operating in the Gaeseong Industrial Complex, while more than 50,000 North Koreans are working there. The production of goods began in December 2004.

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Concerning the Gaeseong Industrial Complex, the two sides have signed four agreements on the Normalization of Gaeseong Industrial complex, etc. in addition to the agreements on communications, customs clearance, quarantine, and stay.

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