Developments Since DPRK-U.S. Singapore Summit

In the June 2018 Summit Agreement reached in Singapore, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the U.S. made the following commitments:

1. The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new U.S.-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.

2. The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.

3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

4. The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

First summit between DPRK Chairman Kim Jong Un, and U.S. President Donald Trump,
June 12, 2018 in Singapore.

Just two days after the Singapore Summit concluded, the DPRK government repatriated the remains of U.S. servicemen in its territory who were killed in the Korean War. Since the summit took place, the DPRK has not conducted any nuclear tests or missile launches (none have been held in fifteen months) and has dismantled the Sohae Missile testing station, cleared its side of the Demilitarized Zone of mines, and cleared 11 guard posts from the area. All of this shows in deeds that it has kept its side of the agreement.

In contrast, no sooner was the Singapore Summit over than the U.S. began to present the issue of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula as a one-sided matter, namely that the DPRK must denuclearize before the U.S. would make concessions. The U.S. and Canadian governments, as part of the so-called Vancouver Group aimed at regime change in the DPRK, continued to spread disinformation through the monopoly media to sow doubt about the sincerity and motives of the DPRK, despite all evidence to the contrary.

On January 11, the U.S. State Department announced that it was lifting some of the U.S. imposed sanctions against the DPRK to allow U.S. aid workers travel access to the DPRK as well as to enable certain drugs and other "life-saving" supplies to be removed from the list of barred items. The sanctions have caused enormous hardship for the people of the DPRK and this is a contribution to normalizing relations, which ultimately require all sanctions to be lifted.

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Deepening of Inter-Korean Relations

South Korean civilian delegation poses for a group photo at DPRK's Mount Kumgang resort on February 13, 2019, after a two-day meeting with their north Korean counterparts to discuss ways to promote broader bilateral exchanges and cooperation.

Inter-Korean relations have been the backbone of the developments for peace on the Korean Peninsula. The deepening of those relations over the past year bode well for the success of the people's striving for peace and reunification.

Kim Jong Un, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), took stock of the state of affairs of inter-Korean relations in his New Year's address. He noted that three inter-Korean summits in 2018, along with other high-level meetings, were unprecedented and marked a turning point in inter-Korean relations. He called on the Korean people to go all out to implement the historic north-south declarations and urged them to build on the previous year's successes to further strengthen relations and build a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula in 2019.

In particular, he called on the leadership and people in the Republic of Korea (ROK) to "eradicate military hostility between north and south and make the Korean peninsula a durable and lasting peace zone."

He added, "[...] we maintain that the joint military exercises with foreign forces, which constitute the source of aggravating the situation on the Korean peninsula, should no longer be permitted and the introduction of war equipment, including strategic assets from outside, should completely be suspended." He called on the Korean people to unite as one and to "check and frustrate all the moves that wreck peace and incite military tension on this land."

The speech also called for enhanced economic, cultural, sports and other relations this year, including the re-opening of the Kaesong Industrial Zone, where previously some 50,000 workers from the DPRK were employed in 125 ROK factories producing consumer goods for local and foreign markets. For more than a decade, until the ROK side forced it to close in 2016, Kaesong stood as an example of economic co-operation for mutual benefit.

Chairman Kim also expressed the hope that reunification of families, split apart by the imposed division of Korea, would be facilitated.

ROK Government Lays out Plan for Inter-Korean
Coexistence and Shared Prosperity

On December 3, 2018, the ROK's Ministry of Unification announced its "Third Inter-Korean Relations Development Framework Plan (2018-2022) and 2018 Implementation Plan," which includes two chief visions, three goals, four strategies, and five principles. It named "peaceful coexistence" and "shared prosperity" as the two chief visions of its plan for advancing inter-Korean relations through 2022. Reunification was postponed into a long-term goal. With "advancement in both inter-Korean relations and the north Korean nuclear issue" listed as one of four strategies, the administration also drew a clear line from the strategy approach requiring denuclearization ahead of advancements in inter-Korean relations.

"Through the formulation and implementation of the Third Inter-Korean Relations Development Framework Plan, we will be concretely executing the vision and goals of Moon Jae-in's Korean Peninsula policy," the ministry said. According to the Constitution and the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act, the south Korean government has been legally obligated since 2008 to develop framework plans for advancing inter-Korean relations every five years.

The third plan is structured around the terms of the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration and the Pyongyang Joint Declaration and inter-Korean military agreement from September 2018. The south Korean newspaper the Hankyoreh points out: "The overarching framework involves two 'visions' of peaceful coexistence and shared prosperity. Whereas the official title of the Panmunjom Declaration ('Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula') refers to 'unification,' the visions do not. The omission stands in contrast with previous references to unification in the first framework plan (2008-2012), which included a vision for 'shared prosperity for south and north and peaceful unification of the Korean Peninsula,' and the second (2013-2017), which included a vision for 'establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula and building a base for unification.' This suggests that unification has been postponed into a long-term task expected to take more than five years."

The Hankyoreh also notes a major difference between this plan and the two prior plans developed under the Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye administrations, namely, "the explicit inclusion of 'advancement in both inter-Korean relations and the north Korean nuclear issue' as one of the four major strategies. The inclusion reads as a policy commitment not to abandon progress in inter-Korean relations even if Pyongyang and Washington remain in conflict over denuclearization and normalization of relations."

The Hankyoreh goes on to explain other notable points in the framework plan:

"Another strategy included by the Moon administration was a 'step-by-step, comprehensive approach' to resolving the north Korean nuclear issue. The approach, which seeks to resolve the nuclear issue within the context of a general peace process, stands in clear contrast with the strategy calling for a 'package deal' and was not included in either the first or second framework plan.

"The three major goals listed by the administration in its third framework plan were 'resolution of the north Korean nuclear issue and establishment of permanent peace,' 'sustainable advancement of inter-Korean relations,' and 'achieving a new economic community on the Korean Peninsula.' The four strategies consisted of a 'step-by-step, comprehensive approach,' 'parallel advancement in both inter-Korean relations and the north Korean nuclear issue,' 'establishing sustainability through institutionalization,' and 'building a base for peaceful unification through mutual cooperation.'"

"The five principles consisted of 'south Korean leadership in resolving Korean Peninsula issues,' 'maintaining peace through strong security,' 'advancing inter-Korean relations based in mutual respect,' 'valuing communication with the public and consensus,' and 'pursuing policies in cooperation with the international community.'"

Groundbreaking of Inter-Korean Railway

The ROK and DPRK held a groundbreaking ceremony on December 26, 2018 to modernize and connect railways and roads across the inter-Korean border. President Moon and Chairman Kim had agreed at their first summit in April to modernize and eventually connect railways and roads along the eastern and western Korean Peninsula. All railways and roads between the two Koreas have been severed since the Korean War ended.

A nine-car train, carried participants from Seoul to the site of the ceremony at Panmun Station in the DPRK's border town of Kaesong, that was attended by some 100 participants from each of the two sides, according to south Korea's Unification Ministry.

The hour-long ceremony was comprised of celebratory speeches from representatives of both the DPRK and ROK, the signing on the wooden sleeper, the linking of a track, and the unveiling of a signpost at the station.

Officials from the ROK and DPRK connect the rails from north and south.

South Korean Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Kim Hyun-mee and Kim Yun Hyok, the DPRK's Vice Railway Minister, delivered speeches as representatives of each side. From the DPRK side, Ri Son Gwon, chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, and four other high-level officials participated in the event. Attendees from the south Korean side included Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, Lee Hae-chan, chief of the ruling Democratic Party, and other parliamentary leaders.

Foreign dignitaries also joined the ceremony, including Armida Alisjahbana, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and senior railway and road officials from neighbouring countries.

Among other south Korean invitees were five civilians, separated from their families in the DPRK by the 1950-53 Korean War. One of them was Kim Kum-ok, an 86-year-old woman born in Kaesong, who said that the trip to her hometown was a dream come true. Another of the civilians was the last locomotive engineer to drive the train between Kaesong and Munsan, a city just south of the DPRK. South Korea operated cargo trains five times a week for about one year through the section of the Gyeongui Line from Kaesong to Munsan, but the operation stopped in December 2008, due to the wrecking of inter-Korean relations by the Lee Myung-bak regime.

After the ceremony, the south Korean participants had lunch in Kaesong and returned by train to the Seoul Station.

Joint Participation in Olympics

On February 15, after a meeting with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, representatives from the DPRK and ROK agreed to form joint teams in women's basketball, women's field hockey, rowing and judo for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games.

From left: ROK Sports Minister Do Jong-hwan, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach and DPRK Sports Minister Kim Il-guk at IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.  Officials announced February 15, 2019 that north and south Korea will organize unified teams in four sports at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Also proposed at the meeting was a joint DPRK-ROK bid for the 2032 Summer Olympics. IOC President Thomas Bach said of the proposal: "The discussions at the working meeting are one further step showing how sport can once more make a contribution to peace on the Korean Peninsula and the world.

"We have a good foundation to build on and make further progress ahead of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Sport will continue to build bridges and demonstrate the unifying power of the Olympic Games. Therefore, we warmly welcome the historic initiative of the two Koreas to put forward a joint Korean candidature for the Olympic Games 2032."

Do Jong-hwan, ROK Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism, said the ROK would "continue to work closely" with the DPRK on a joint bid, while Kim Il Guk, the DPRK's National Olympic Committee (NOC) President and Minister of Physical Culture and Sport, said, "I am very moved and excited by the prospect of bidding together with south Korea. We agree with the concepts put forward by south Korea, and ask for the support of President Bach and the IOC to jointly host the Olympic Games in Seoul and Pyongyang," he said.

The IOC's executive board will make a decision on joint Korean participation at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics at its next meeting in Lausanne, March 26-28.

(With files from Naenara, Hankyoreh, Xinhua, Yonhap, CNN. Photos: Xinhua, Yonhap.)

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Attempt to Sabotage Peace Efforts

The Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) together have been working diligently for peace and reunification on the Korean Peninsula. As part of this, the DPRK has been striving to achieve normalized relations with the U.S., with support from the ROK.

However, various U.S. politicians in Congress are working to ensure that the U.S. maintains a hostile policy toward the DPRK to justify maintaining a large military presence on the Korean Peninsula, keeping Korea divided and in a constant state of war.

On January 22, Congressman Tom Malinowski introduced the United States and Republic of Korea Alliance Support Act, aimed at enabling the U.S. "to maintain treaty alliances and forward military presence in Asia to deter conflict and preserve peace and security" and to re-affirm the "Mutual Defence Treaty between the United States and the Republic of Korea."[1]

This bill stipulates: "None of the funds made available to the Department of Defense for the fiscal year 2019 may be used to reduce the total number of members of the United States Armed Forces serving on active duty who are deployed to the Republic of Korea below 22,000 unless the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff first jointly certify to the relevant congressional committees that the Republic of Korea would be fully capable of defending itself and deterring a conflict on the Korean Peninsula that would threaten United States interests following such a reduction."

On January 29, a group of 13 Republican and Democrat members of Congress sent a letter to Acting Secretary of Defence Patrick M. Shanahan, calling for the resumption of U.S.-ROK military exercises. Their letter says: "Since the June 2018 Singapore summit, the United States has suspended Ulchi Freedom Guardian, Vigilant Ace, and other smaller exercises with the ROK Armed Forces. Your office has characterized this suspension as a 'good faith gesture to enable diplomacy.' But with the International Atomic Energy Agency assessment that the north Korean nuclear program is continuing and developing further, we believe it would be appropriate to resume exercises in coordination with the ROK."

The letter adds: "Ultimately, the timing and scope of bilateral exercises should be dictated by national security interests, not the whims of the Pyongyang regime. And we do not view military exercises as contrary to ongoing diplomatic efforts. By demonstrating the U.S. commitment to a treaty ally and promoting readiness, military exercises with the ROK Armed Forces are complementary to joint efforts to pressure north Korea to reduce or eliminate its nuclear program."

Thus, this bill would ensure that the U.S. military remains on the Korean Peninsula indefinitely to protect U.S. "interests" and because the ROK is a "treaty ally." As for the joint military exercises carried out under the pretext of "self-defence," it is well-known they are aimed at regime change in the DPRK, and that they have escalated tensions in the region. Furthermore, the aim of the U.S. imperialists from 1945 when Korea was divided by force has been to keep it as a base for "forward military presence in Asia" in the name of "U.S. interests."

Should this bill -- being promoted on the eve of the upcoming DPRK-U.S. summit in Vietnam at the end of February -- be enacted, it would ensure, no matter what improvements are achieved in terms of DPRK-U.S. relations, that the ROK remains in the pocket of U.S. imperialism. This is the opposite of what the Korean people demand and what the times require and must be opposed.


1. The Mutual Defence Treaty between the ROK and the U.S. was signed on October 1, 1953, right after the U.S. was forced to concede defeat in the Korean War and sign the Korean Armistice Agreement (KAA) on July 27, 1953. The U.S.-ROK Mutual Defence Treaty was imposed on the ROK and was a direct violation of the Armistice Agreement which prohibits the U.S. from introducing new military hardware or troops into Korea, to engage in any hostile acts against the DPRK, and requires that a peace treaty be signed to replace the Armistice Agreement as soon as possible. The U.S.-ROK Mutual Defence Treaty has cost the Korean people dearly over the last decades, not just in financial terms but in their aspirations for peace and reunification. This is the main reason behind their demand "U.S. Troops Out of Korea" and for the U.S. to sign a peace treaty with the DPRK.

(With files from

This article was published in

Volume 49 Number 1 - February 25, 2019

Article Link:
Developments Since DPRK-U.S. Singapore Summit


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