Pyongyang Report
News and views on DPRK - North Korea

Vol 1, No 2 June 1999

In this issue-

A naval confrontation flared in early June when ROK vessels used force to eject DPRK crab fishing boats in contested waters in the West Sea. One of the DPRK naval boats was sunk by gunfire.

Whatever the situation on the spot, restraint appears to have been exercised at the highest levels on both sides. Significantly, the DPRK seems to have refrained from a counter-attack and major meetings have not been cancelled.

The incident shows once again how undemarcated and disputed boundaries can lead to dangerous flare ups over matters that seem to be of little importance to either side.

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Pyongyang, June 15 (KCNA) -- South Korean warships bumped against warships of the navy of the Korean People's Army and fired bullets and shells at them and sank one of them on the north side's territorial waters southeast of Ssanggyo-ri, Kangryong county, South Hwanghae Province.


It is entirely thanks to the high patience and self-restraint of our people's army soldiers that the enemy's armed provocations in the west sea of Korea have not developed into an overall war. As we have already clarified, the reckless military provocations by the South Korean rulers are deliberate and planned ones aimed at driving the situation of the Korean peninsula to the brink of war.

The South Korean rulers must immediately apologize for the serious consequences of their armed provocations. They must not run amok, clearly mindful that if military provocations are continued, they will meet a thousand-fold retaliatory blow.

Source: KCNA website

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Panmunjom, June 15 (KCNA) -- As already known, there has been created a dangerous situation in which a war may break out any time in Korea because of the reckless military provocations of the South Korean rulers in the north side's territorial waters off the West Sea of Korea. It was against the background of this touch-and-go situation that talks between Ri Chan Bok, chief delegate of the Korean People's Army side, and his U.S. military counterpart took place at Panmunjom today.

For over ten days from June 4, the South Korean rulers infiltrated warships of the navy deep into the territorial waters of our side ..., and tried to block our peaceful boats from their routine fishing while threatening the safety of our fishermen.


The provocations with an involvement of scores of South Korean battleships are timed to coincide with the end of the U.S.-led war of aggression on Yugoslavia. This fully reveals the U.S. intention to unleash a war finally. As he could no longer insist on his assertion, the chief delegate of the U.S. forces side proposed simultaneous withdrawal of warships of both sides.

The chief delegate of the KPA side held that the South Korean battleships must be withdrawn at once because they infiltrated into the territorial waters of the north side, stressing: We will fully exercise our inviolable sovereignty in our territorial waters.

The Korean People's Army will not in the least pardon anyone violating the sky, ground and seas of our country even 0.001 mm but mercilessly punish provokers with strong self-defensive blow. We are fully prepared for both dialogue and war. If an opportunity presents itself, we will not miss it.

Source: KCNA website

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Deputy Press Secretary James Foley briefed.

FOLEY: Maybe I used the wrong words there. Certainly, I don't think we can expect any kind of a formal written agreement on this matter. After all, this has been a de facto practice - an informal understanding, dating back more than 40 years - that both North and South Korea will try to respect this line as simply a practical matter. It's never been memorialized, I think, or formalized. So that's not what I'm referring to.

But I am referring to something a little more than the mere fact that there hasn't been an incident in the last 24 hours. Some further understanding that there won't be further incidents. So I think I over-sold the -

Q: These are actually international waters, is that right?

FOLEY: That's my understanding.

Q: And why would North Korea not have a right to fish international waters, except for this agreement that's not really an agreement for the Northern Limit Line?

FOLEY: I think the question is really one of what's in the national interests of both North and South Korea here; namely, the avoidance of confrontation -- the ability to manage their relationship so that tensions are reduced and they're able to move forward towards a better relationship overall. Obviously that's difficult to achieve if forces are in close proximity and running into each other. It's simply a practical matter that we believe serves both sides' interests.

Q: Would you like to see some arrangement where the North Koreans would be able to fish these waters -

FOLEY: I wouldn't want to comment on the specifics. This is a very serious, even potentially volatile matter. For me to prescribe different solutions wouldn't be appropriate from this public forum. I certainly don't have any information that's been given to me in that regard.

United States Information Agency Washington File website [filename="99061609*TXT"]
How to locate files on the Washington File

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The Associated Press (Anne Gearan, "U.S. PATROLS MONITOR KOREAN DISPUTE," Washington, 06/15/99) reported that additional US aircraft are patrolling the Yellow Sea. The US administration expressed concern about the situation, but US officials said the tense standoff appears to have eased. Mike Hammer, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said that DPRK ships pulled back from disputed territory and headed back to the DPRK. Hammer stated, "We have been in close contact with the South Korean government and are reaching out to the North Korean government to make clear that they need to stay north of the limit line." P.J. Crowley, a spokesman for the US National Security Council, stated, "From my understanding, this is an annual situation. North Korea has, in the past, attempted to bring vessels down to these waters. In the past, when they've been warned off by South Korean vessels, they've turned around and returned to North Korea. This year, for some reason, they have not."

[Ed. note: The Northern Limit Line (NLL) is not included in the 1953 Armistice Agreement. It was established unilaterally by the UN Command in 1953 as a buffer zone between the DPRK mainland and ROK-controlled islands. Parts of the line fall within 12 nautical miles of the DPRK mainland. US and ROK military sources said that, in previous years, DPRK fishing boats frequently crossed the NLL during crab-fishing season, but turned around when confronted by ROK patrol boats. The sources also said that this is the first time that DPRK naval patrols have been deployed south of DPRK fishing vessels.]

["The Northeast Asia Peace and Security Network NAPSNet) is a transnational information network that aims to provide a forum to exchange analyses, explore ideas and promote dialogue on issues of peace, security and nuclear non-proliferation in Northeast Asia. ....NAPSNet is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation."]

Source NAPSnet website

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Despite the latest military confrontation with South Korea, North Korea has given Hyundai Group permission to build a large-scale industrial complex on its western coast this year.

Kim Yoon-kyu, president of Hyundai Asan Co. said Saturday that a 10-man delegation will leave for Pyongyang July 12 to discuss details of the industrial-complex projects, including its location. Group chairman Chung Mong-hun will probably head the mission, he added.

The complex, to be built on a lot covering about 3.3 million sq. meters by the end of 1999, will mostly house South Korea's light-industry manufacturers.

The Hyundai-proposed industrial complex will gradually be expanded to cover a total of 66 million sq. meters.

The latest accord comes amid the North's ban on South Koreans' visits to Pyongyang, which was brought into effect in the wake of a military clash in the Yellow Sea last Tuesday.

"The North Korean government remains committed to the policy of separating inter-Korean economic exchanges from political and military issues," Kim said, on returning from Beijing where he met with Pyongyang officials on Hyundai's projects.

The delegation's visit will be followed by those of Hyundai's male and female basketball players, who Kim said will arrive in the North Korean capital between July 12 and 15, playing two games each in a period of two days.

"The inter-Korean basketball games will be broadcast to the South," he said, adding that the North Korean team will include Lee Myong-hun, one of the world's tallest basketball players.

He also noted the Hyundai delegation plans to discuss the issue of building a gymnasium in Pyongyang.

But the North held back its decision on when Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-yung will again meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang.

Discussions on other pending issues regarding Hyundai's Mt. Kumgang tourist projects, such as the guarantee of Hyundai's exclusive development rights, foreigners' travel to the scenic mountain and the construction of a floating hotel, have yet to be finalized, said the Hyundai official.

Hyundai plans to employ North Korean workers at its overseas construction sites. Among other agreements with the North, meanwhile, the executive said Hyundai's newly hired employees will attend a summer training session at a beach near Mt. Kumgang, starting July 31.

Updated: 06/21/1999 by Yoo Cheong-mo Staff reporter

Source Korea Herald

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BEIJING - With tension subsiding in the Yellow Sea and expectations rising among millions of separated family members, South and North Korea will open their first governmental talks in 14 months Monday, officials said.

"We hope that the two sides will reach an agreement so that the reunion of separated families can be realized at an early date," Vice Unification Minister Yang Young-shik told reporters upon arrival in the Chinese capital Sunday. Yang is leading a three-member South Korean delegation.

His remarks reflect the wishes of about 5.5-million people separated by the division of the Korean Peninsula in 1948 to have the chance to meet their relatives. Most have not seen or heard from their family members for half a century.

However, Seoul officials said they could not be sure of the success of the talks if North Korea drags its feet by demanding an apology or compensation for damages incurred during last week's naval clashes in the Yellow Sea.

Pyongyang Saturday informed Seoul of its intention to attend the meeting, to be held in Kempinski Hotel at 10 a.m. (KST 11 a.m.), as scheduled despite the incident. But it failed to send its delegation list to the South.


Up through the eve of the talks, the South has provided 100,000 tons of fertilizer in aid to the North as promised, despite the intense naval standoff in the West Sea.

The division of Korea in 1945 and the 1950-1953 Korean War left more than 10-million people separated from their families.

Since then, there has been only one set of family reunions, in which about 150 South Koreans visited Pyongyang in 1985 to meet their relatives with the approval from both governments.

No direct communication with or visits to either side have been possible without approval from both governments since the border was sealed.

Updated: 06/21/1999 by Shin Yong-bae Korea Herald correspondent

Source: Korea Herald

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Perry, a special advisor to the President and Secretary of State, and U.S. North Korea Policy Coordinator, gave a readout of his meetings with Pyongyang officials at a May 29th press briefing in Seoul.


I also wanted to reaffirm and build on existing links and dialogues with the DPRK. In our discussions, the DPRK side emphasized its intention to maintain and respect the current elements of our relationship, including the 1993 Joint Statement, the 1994 Agreed Framework, current negotiations including the missile talks, The Four Party Talks, and other dialogues. On our side, we will also of course continue to do so.

SourceUnited States Information Agency Washington File website [filename="99060101*EPF "]
How to locate files on the Washington File

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NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia has apparently had a very deep impact on the thinking of North Korean authorities. DPRK representatives say privately that their government now "has discarded all illusions about Washington's intentions." According to these officials, the bombing has "completely and irreversibly" convinced Pyongyang that it is dealing with "a new Hitler" who is "determined to conquer the entire world through intimidation, pressure, and aggression." Pyongyang reportedly now has no doubts that, given the slightest opportunity, the United States will attack the DPRK like a "vulture."


The North hopes to ... to develop formal diplomatic relations with the United States, remove U.S. economic sanctions, and join international financial institutions like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

Source: Centre for Nonproliferation Studies (California); the report is a joint publication with Center for Contemporary International Problems, (ICIP) Moscow

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DPRK Ambassador to Indonesia, Kim Byong Hong is planning a short visit to New Zealand in early July.

Details from Don Borrie or Tim Beal

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Pyongyang Report is compiled by Tim Beal and Don Borrie as a contribution towards greater knowledge and understanding of North Korea. Information is culled from a variety of sources and does not present any specific ideological perspective. It is planned to issue it every two months by hardcopy, email and on the web.
Further information may be obtained from the editors
Dr Tim Beal
19 Devon Street, Kelburn Wellington, NZ
Tel: +64 4 463 5080 (day)
+64 4 934 5133 (evening)
Fax: +64 4 934 5134
Email: or
Rev Don Borrie
7 Thornley St
Titahi Bay
Tel/fax: +64 4 236 6422

Sallie Yea will be joining the team at the next issue
Tim Beal maintains a webpage on DPRK-North Korea

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Other sources used include:


Pyongyang Report Vol 1, No. 2 June 1999
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