Pyongyang Report

Vol 2 No3 August 2000


In this issue-

n      The Inter-Korean Summit

n      ASEAN Regional Forum; DPRK to establish relations with Canada, NZ

n      World Food Programme food supply report 24 July: Position still precarious


Inter-Korean Summit

Since the 10 April announcement of the summit in June there has been unprecedented coverage of inter-Korean relations and the relations of the two Koreas with other countries. A large number of articles, mainly but not exclusively, from the South Korean press are available at


Normalisation of relations with Republic of Korea, the United States and Japan, concomitant lifting of sanctions and access to investment, markets and international loans, are necessary for the long-term rehabilitation and growth of the DPRK economy. There has been astounding progress on the diplomatic front this year, some of which we document in this issue. However, in the short term the food situation remains precarious and there is continuing need for foreign aid.

The announcement that New Zealand is following Italy, Australia, the Philippines, and Canada in establishing diplomatic relations with the DPRK is very welcome and we hope it leads to bilateral aid and a fruitful people-to-people and business relationship.

Tim Beal and Don Borrie


Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong Il at the Pyongyang summit, June 2000


Key dates and events

4 January

Establishment of diplomatic relations with Italy

9 February

Treaty of friendship, good neighbourliness and cooperation between the DPRK and the Russian


8 April

Signing of agreement in Beijing to hold summit in Pyongyang

10 April

Press release about summit released in Seoul and Pyongyang

13 April

Election in Republic of Korea

8 May

DPRK and Australia re-establish diplomatic relations after 25 years

29-31 May

Kim Jong Il visits Beijing for talks with Jiang Zemin

11 June

Summit postponed one day on DPRK's request

13-15 June

Inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang

15 June

Joint declaration

12 July

Establishment of diplomatic relations with the Philippines

19-20 July

President Putin visits Pyongyang

27-29 July

ASEAN Regional Forum in Bangkok. DPRK FM Paek Nam Sun has meetings with foreign ministers Lee Joung-binn (ROK; 26 July), Yohei Kono (Japan), Lloyd Axworthy (Canada), Tang Jiaxuan (China), Surin Pitsuwan (Thailand), Alexander Downer), Australia), Madeleine Albright (US) and Phil Goff (NZ). Agreement with Canada and NZ to establish diplomatic relations

29-31 July

Ministerial talks in Seoul

29 July

Paek Nam Sun visits Cambodia

15 August

Family reunions scheduled


Kim Jong Il to visit Vladivostok; Kim Yong Nam to attend 'millennium meeting' of UN

Joint statement of 15 June

True to the noble will of all the fellow countrymen for the peaceful reunification of the country, Chairman Kim Jong Il of the National Defense Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and President Kim Dae Jung of the Republic of Korea had a historic meeting and summit in Pyongyang from June 13 to 15, 2000.


The heads of the North and the South, considering that the recent meeting and summit, the first of their kind in history of division, are events of weighty importance in promoting mutual understanding, developing inter-Korean relations and achieving peaceful reunification, declare as



1. The North and the South agreed to solve the question of the country's reunification independently by the concerted efforts of the Korean nation responsible for it.


2 The North and the South, recognizing that a proposal for federation of lower stage advanced by the North side and a proposal for confederation put forth by the South side for the reunification of the country have elements in common, agreed to work for the reunification in this direction in the future.


3 The North and the South agreed to settle humanitarian issues, including exchange of visiting groups of separated families and relatives and the issue of unconverted long-term prisoners, as early as possible on the occasion of August 15 this year.


4 The North and the South agreed to promote the balanced development of the national economy through economic cooperation and build mutual confidence by activating cooperation and exchanges in all fields, social, cultural, sports, public health, environmental and so on.


5 The North and the South agreed to hold dialogues between the authorities as soon as possible to implement the above-mentioned agreed points in the near future.


President Kim Dae Jung cordially invited Chairman Kim Jong Il of the DPRK National Defense Commission to visit Seoul and Chairman Kim Jong Il agreed to visit Seoul at an appropriate time in the future.


June 15, 2000

Kim Jong Il


National Defense Commission


Kim Dae Jung


Republic of Korea

Source :DPRK version; ROK version

Citizens Elated Over NK Leader's Greeting


By Sah Dong-seok, Staff Reporter


South Koreans became excited when they saw the live TV broadcast of a plane carrying President Kim Dae-jung and a 130-member South Korean entourage arrive at Sunan Airport in Pyongyang at about 10:20 a.m. yesterday.


Their emotions reached a peak when North Korean leader Kim Jong-il unexpectedly greeted his South Korean counterpart at the airport.


Some citizens whose hometowns are in North Korea were in tears, watching the two leaders review an honor guard as crowds of cheering North Koreans waved red and pink flowers.


People gathered around televisions and giant screens across the country to witness the historic visit. Millions of South Koreans saw the first live images of North Korea directly to the South.


The fact that the enigmatic North Korean leader turned up in person to greet South Korean President Kim at the airport took citizens by surprise, prompting some of them to prematurely predict that this first inter-Korean summit would proceed well. ``Kim's airport greeting could be taken as meaning that North Korea is serious about the historic summit,'' a Seoul citizen said.


Some of (the) citizens who had defected to South Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War gathered at an administrative office for five North Korean provinces in downtown Seoul to watch the two Kims shake hands at the airport.


``I don't know how to express my deep emotion. All things are expected to go ahead smoothly after seeing our president met by Kim Jong-il at the airport,'' said Lee Sung-man, whose hometown is Chungkangjin, a North Korean city in the far northern region. ``Many who had to leave their North Korean hometowns during the Korean conflict were in tears, watching the leaders of the two Koreas shake hands at the airport.''


The meeting is the first between South and North Korea since they were separated in 1945 and have been technically at war since the Korean War ended in 1953 with an armistice. Kim Dae-jung is accompanied by 130 officials and businessmen along with 50 South Korean journalists. Foreign reporters were excluded from the trip.


A Seoul housewife expressed hope that national reunification will be achieved soon. ``I became excited over Kim's visit to Pyongyang. Seeing the two leaders meet in the North Korean capital makes me feel as if reunification is close at hand, albeit not immediately,'' said Kim Yong-hwoi, 38, who lives in Kaepo-dong, southern Seoul.


Woo Sun-dok, 73, said, ``The airport greeting was one of the most touching scenes I have ever seen in my life. I am proud that our president stands in Pyongyang.''

Korea Times 13 June, 2000


Pres. Kim Reticent in Contrast to Talkative Kim Jong-il


By Chong Wa Dae Press Corps


Pyongyang -- South Korean President Kim Dae-jung remained reticent while his host Kim Jong-il spoke with confidence when the two leaders met for the first time Tuesday and later in their summit talks.


The North Korean leader's manner of speech exuded confidence, dwarfing the reserved nature of his guest who is usually voluble when speaking in Seoul.


Kim Dae-jung, an avowed expert on Korean unification, espouses profound knowledge and theory when discussing inter-Korean matters. He always takes the initiative in discussions of the divided Korean Peninsula and unification.


In conversations with Kim Jong-il, however, he gave short responses, expressing gratitude for the warm welcome and occasional simple consents.


On the president's reticent manner, his spokesman Park Joon-young said the president's thinking was fully known through press coverage of various events in Seoul.


Since the North already knows his way of thinking, the president's position is to listen to what Kim Jong-il has to say, Park said.

Korea Times 14 June 2000

The double handshake


With their first-ever summit meeting in Pyongyang Tuesday, the leaders of South and North Korea broke the residual Cold War ice on the Korean Peninsula. The first day of meetings between South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean National Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong-il focused on the creation of a favorable atmosphere for talks between the two sides on issues of mutual concern. Thus began the long-awaited dialogue between the top leaders of the two Koreas. It was the beginning of a process that can change the deep-rooted animosity and distrust plaguing the inter-Korean relations into mutual reconciliation and eventual reunification.


The two Kims' firm two-handed handshake at Sunan Airport was the first by the leaders of the two Koreas since the peninsula was divided at the end of World War II in 1945, a division imposed on a supposedly liberated people by the victors, including the United States and the Soviet Union. The historic meeting sent a clear message to the rest of the world: Although tragically scarred by the 1950-53 Korean War, the two Koreas have come to recognize the need for building mutual trust as one people sharing a common destiny.


Both Koreas are aware that it is their destiny to settle their problems on their own. Both sides made this point when they spoke at a dinner held at the People's Palace of Culture for President Kim and his party. Kim Yong-nam, chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, said Korea must begin the 21st century by achieving reunification through effort based on self-reliance. In reply, President Kim said that, "We must carve out our future on our own."

Korea Herald Editorial 15 June 2000


NZ Journal of Asian Studies is running a special supplement on the Summit and DPRK in its current issue. Apart from academic articles there are commentaries from a range of New Zealanders, including Phil Goff and Matt Robson. Further details available from the Editor, Assoc Prof Ken Henshall, Department of East Asian Studies, Waikato University ph +64 07 07 838 4210, email


Below is an extract from the commentary by Dr Stephen Epstein, Vice President of the Korean Studies Association of Australasia on some of the human dimensions of the historic events.

emotional perplexity

That first evening I joined a group of middle school teachers for dinner. They expressed amazement not only at Kim Jong Il's appearance at the airport, but a television show broadcast the night before entitled Py'˘ngyang saram, p'y˘ngyang saenghwal (Pyongyang people, Pyongyang life) that formed part of a recent media campaign to give a sense of life in North Korea. In contrast to the usual images of the country that focus on goose-stepping soldiers, missiles, banners with ideological slogans, and cavernously empty streets in the capital, the footage depicted people walking about Pyongyang in smiling conversations with friends as vehicles passed by. The program even followed its presenters into hair salons to find out what coiffures are preferred by the women of Pyongyang.


In other words, the media was taking the unprecedented step of implying that the people of North Korea were just that--people, not brainwashed automatons or starving victims of a harsh regime to be demonised or pitied. Two teachers concurred in noting that Pyongyang, with its broad boulevards, stately trees and monumental architecture, appeared far more attractive than cramped Seoul with its buildings stacked higgledy-piggledy. Depictions of neon-lit nocturnal street-life led one to remark that, to her surprise, the north appeared m˘sittda, a Korean term that connotes fashionability, smartness--"cool." But the overall impression experienced by my companions is summed up in another word heard frequently over the dinner table: tanghwanghada, which suggests emotional perplexity. They simply didn't know what to think. The images were an affront to everything they have been brought up to believe about their brethren to the north.

NZ Journal of Asian Studies, Vol 2 No 1 2000

food supply situation still remains precarious

Although there are encouraging signs that the relaxation of trade and economic sanctions imposed on DPR Korea and prospects of greater economic interaction with other countries in the region, will undoubtedly have a positive impact on longer term food security in the country, the current food supply situation still remains precarious, particularly amongst vulnerable groups. Approaching its sixth year of food shortages, therefore, the country still requires large scale food assistance to ensure adequate nutritional standards, especially for children, pregnant women and the elderly. The period between May/June and October is crucial to food supply prospects as it corresponds to the beginning of the lean food supply period, when food stocks are traditionally at their lowest, and also the start of the main crop season on which the country depends heavily for domestic food production. Crop losses, as in 1995 to 1997 due to natural disasters, therefore can have a devastating effect on food availability. ....


As part of a wider regional phenomenon, which also affected other countries in South East Asia, including China, rainfall in the run-up to the main 2000 season in DPR Korea was erratic and noticeably below average. ..., 1999/2000 cereal availability has been revised to 3.420 million tonnes, some 52 000 tonnes or 1.5 percent below the mission estimate last year. Against this, utilisation needs, including food, feed and other uses (seed and waste) are assessed at 4.751 million tonnes, leaving an import requirement of 1.33 million tonnes for the 1999/2000 marketing year. Of this requirement, it is estimated that commercial imports during the marketing year will be around 210 000 tonnes, whilst food aid imports, already delivered and in the pipeline, amount to a further 586 000 tonnes. Based on these revisions, therefore, the uncovered import requirement for 1999/2000 marketing year to the end of October 2000, is estimated at 535 000 tonnes.

WFP/FAO Special Report on food supply 24 July 2000




Further information may be obtained from:

or 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




Rev Don Borrie

7 Thornley St., Titahi Bay, Porirua, NZ

Tel/fax: +64 4 236 6422




Return to DPRK index page