North ice-breaker proposed in June

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North ice-breaker proposed in June

A nongovernmental North Korean organization proposed a joint event to its counterpart in the South to mark the June 15, 2000 Declaration in Kaesong or in Mount Kumgang, a gesture to thaw frozen-over inter-Korean relations.

The All Korean Committee For Implementation of the June 15 Joint Declaration’s North Korean branch sent a fax to the Southern branch Wednesday to propose a joint commemoration of the upcoming anniversary of the declaration made during the summit between former leaders Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-il. The declaration was a milestone in cooperation between the two Koreas during Kim Dae-jung’s so-called Sunshine Policy of engagement.

“We will soon have the 13th anniversary of the historical announcement of the June 15 North-South Joint Declaration,” the one-page fax read. “However, for the past five years, the joint declaration was totally denied and inter-Korean relations were entirely destroyed .?.?. the Kaesong Industrial Complex, which is a precious achievement of the joint declaration, is also at risk of a permanent shutdown.

“In this circumstance, the committee’s Northern side proposes a unification event to mark the anniversary in Kaesong or Mount Kumgang,” the message read.

The Kaesong Industrial Complex and the Kumgang tourism resort were the biggest examples of economic cooperation between the Koreas. Both are currently shut.

After 2000, the inter-Korean committee, which has branches in the South, North and in Japan, had held a joint event annually at the Kumgang Resort to commemorate the declaration.

The last one was in June 2008. The following month, a South Korean tourist was shot dead by a Northern guard during the Kumgang resort trip, and tours from the South stopped.

Jung Hyun-gon, chairman of the committee’s Southern office, said it welcomed the message.

“It’s the first time the Northern office proposed an event in Kaesong,” Jung told the Korea JoongAng Daily by phone. “We will propose an event in Kaesong, but in order to have it, we need approval from the government to cross the border.”

All inter-Korean business on government and civilian levels has been frozen since the North tested a long-range missile last December and a nuclear device this February, which triggered fresh rounds of sanctions on the regime.

Meanwhile, the government has approved a plan for the South Korean basketball league to invite Northern players to Seoul.



By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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