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Korea Reconciliation Accord after Fifty Years

by S. Michael Hahm, Executive Secretary for Global Justice and Advocacy

General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church

Tuesday, June 13, 2000, was a historic day. On that day, President Kim Dae Jung of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and President Kim Jong Il of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) met in the DPRK capital Pyongyang for a three-day inter Korean summit. It was the first such contact in fifty years.

Mr. Kim Jong Il, known as a recluse, unexpectedly greeted the South Korean President Kim at Pyongyang's Su Nam airport. From there the two leaders rode together in a limousine, receiving acclamation from some 600,000 Pyongyang citizens who lined their route to the Baekhwawon State Guest House.

Before his departure President Kim Dae Jung said, "The people of Korea and the world are looking at the summit to congratulate us. I expect peace and cooperation are expected to come out of the summit." Members of the South Korean delegation said they hoped "that the three-day summit will be the start of regular exchanges between the DPRK and the ROK that will expand on the symbolism that is likely to be the chief result of this trip."

By Wednesday, after two days of meetings that were surprising for their emotion and warmth, the presidents of North and South Korea reached a broad agreement to work for the peace and unity of their divided Korea. The following is the text of the accord signed by the leaders of North Korea and South Korea in Pyongyang:

Upholding the lofty wishes of the Korean people yearning for peaceful reunification of the fatherland, President Kim Dae Jung of the Republic of Korea and Kim Jong Il, chairman of the National Defense Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, held a historic meeting and summit talks on June 13-15, 2000.

Noting that the meeting and talks held for the first time in the divided Korean history carry grave significance in promoting mutual understanding and developing South-North relations and achieving peaceful, national reunification, the top leaders of South and North Korea made the following declarations:

1. The South and North, as masters of national unification, will join hands in efforts to resolve the issue of national unification independently.

2. Acknowledging that the different formulas that the North and South favor for reunification have common factors, they will strive to work together to achieve this goal.

3. The South and North will exchange groups of dispersed family members and their relatives around August 15, and resolve as soon as possible humanitarian issues, including the repatriation of Communist prisoners who have completed their terms in jail.

4. The South and North will pursue a balanced development of their national economies, and build mutual trust by accelerating exchanges in the social, cultural, sports, health, and environmental sectors.

5. In order to put these agreements into practice, the South and North will hold a dialogue between government authorities at an early date. President Kim Dae Jung cordially invited Chairman Kim Jong Il to visit Seoul, and he agreed to do that at an appropriate time.

July 5, 2000

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