Section 6. Situation in the Korean Peninsula


A joint statement of the Republic of Korea and North Korea was issued (on July 4, 1972) calling for an independent and peaceful reunification of the divided country with the trend toward easing international tensions as the background. The dialogue between the respective Red Cross Societies of South and North Korea, started in September 1971, led to full-dress talks at the end of August 1972 after a lapse of about one year. Thus, the North-South dialogue gradually progressed despite some complications.

As regards the domestic situation, the Republic of Korea amended the Constitution by issuing a special proclamation and declaring emergency martial law (on October 17, 1972). On the other hand, North Korea also amended its Constitution and renewed the registration of party members. Thus both sides consolidated their domestic setups.


1. North-South relations


(1) Full-dress Red Cross talks

The first preliminary meeting between the South and North Korean Red Cross societies was started on September 20, 1971, at the proposal of Choe Du Son, president of the Red Cross Society of the Republic of Korea, made on August 12, 1971. After holding 25 preliminary talks and 16 working-level meetings, the first joint meeting of the two Red Cross societies was held in Pyongyang (from August 30 to September 2, 1972). The second full-dress meeting was held in Seoul (from September 13 to 16), followed by the third meeting in Pyongyang (from October 24 to 26), the fourth meeting in Seoul (from November 22 to 24) and the fifth meeting in Pyongyang (from March 21 to 22).

The first and second meetings were primarily courtesy meetings in character with both sides undertaking substantial discussions from the third meeting. However, the problem of confirming and notifying the fate and addresses of families and relatives of those separated in the Korean War-the first item on the agenda-still remained unsolved, and no substantial progress was made.

(2) Activities of North-South Coordinating Committee

The Governments of the Republic of Korea and North Korea simultaneously issued a joint statement on July 4, 1972. The statement said that both sides had agreed on the following principles for the reunification of the fatherland: (i) to settle the problem independently without outside interference, (ii) to use a peaceful method without resorting to force of arms and (iii) to endeavor for national unity by transcending ideological and institutional differences. The two sides also agreed on the establishment of the North-South Coordinating Committee to solve the problem.

Under this North-South joint statement, the two sides held three rounds of the first meeting of the joint co-chairmen of the North-South Coordinating Committee (between Lee Hu Rak, South Korean co-chairman and director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Pak Song Chol, second deputy premier who represented Kim Yong Joo, North Korean co-chairman and director of the Organization and Guidance Department of the Korean Labor Party). As a result, the North-South Coordinating Committee was formally established on November 30, 1972.

The following are notable points among the items agreed upon between South and North Korea:

(i) The two sides to stop broadcasting programs against each other over loudspeakers along the cease-fire line and stop distributing handbills in each other's territory.

(ii) The establishment of five subcommittees, namely, military, political, diplomatic, economic and cultural, in the course of the talks at the Coordinating Committee.

However, criticism by the North Korean press against the Republic of Korea intensified after the turn of the year (1973). Moreover, such incidents as an espionage case on U-Do (on March 4) and the shooting and killing of a Republic of Korea soldier in the demilitarized zone (on March 7) occurred in March 1973. The second North-South Coordinating Committee meeting was held amid this situation, and the ROK side proposed that economic and cultural exchanges be carried out first, whereas the North Korean side proposed disarmament and the conclusion of a peace treaty first, indicating that there still existed a big difference in opinion between the two sides.

(3) Korean problem in the U.N.

In the United Nations, it was generally expected that the Korean problem would become complicated in view of various new factors, such as the trend toward the easing of international tensions, the opening of the North-South dialogue and China's participation in the United Nations. However, the plenary session of the 27th U.N. General Assembly on September 23, 1972, decided, by a vote of 70 for and 35 against with 21 abstentions, to postpone consideration of the Korean problem until the 28th U.N. General Assembly. Thus, consideration of the Korean problem was deferred for the second consecutive year.


2. Developments in the Republic of Korea


(1) Declaration of martial law

The political situation in the Republic of Korea remained comparatively calm under a state of emergency (declared on December 6, 1971). On October 17. 1972, President Park Chung Hee issued a special declaration dissolving the National Assembly and prohibiting political activities by political parties on the ground that a reform of the domestic setup was necessary to cope with progress in the North-South dialogue and proclaimed emergency martial law. (The emergency martial law was lifted 9I1 December 13, 1972.)

(2) Constitutional amendment

President Park announced on October 27, 1972, a draft amendment to the Constitution which was approved by a national referendum on November 21. (The new Constitution was promulgated on December 27.) The Republic of Korea also elected members of the National Conference for Unification (on December 15, 1972), and incumbent President Park was reelected as the eighth President of the Republic of Korea on December 23. (He was inaugurated on December 27.) Thus, the Republic of Korea solidified its national setup centered around President Park.

(3) Economic exchanges with Communist countries

As for its external policy, the Republic of Korea endeavored to maintain relations of close cooperation with Japan and the United States, and revised the Foreign Trade Law on December 30, 1972, to open the way for trade with Communist countries. On February 10, 1973, Foreign Minister Kim Yong Sik stated that the Government of the Republic of Korea intended to positively established diplomatic relations with Communist countries not hostile to the Republic of Korea provided such relations contributed to Korea's national interests. His statement was regarded as showing the Republic of Korea's basic attitude in coping with the new international situation, while exercising strict control over domestic affairs.

(4) Third five-year plan

In the economic field, 1972 was the first year of the third five-year plan. Although the South Korean economy recorded remarkable growth during the periods covered by the two preceding five-year plans, it had not a few problems yet to be solved, such as an adverse balance of international payments, the worsening of business management, price increases and slow development in the agricultural sector. The third five-year plan is designed to solve these problems to secure growth on a stable foundation.

The Republic of Korea's international payments balance improved remarkably in 1972 as a result of greatly increased exports and strengthened import controls. In 1972, it started the Saemaul movement, a new rural reform movement intended to actively develop farming villages. Emergency presidential orders were issued (in August 1972) to freeze private loans and stabilize prices and exchange rates.


3.  Developments in North Korea


(1) Trend toward "cult of personality"

North Korea celebrated Premier Kim II Sung's 61st birthday on a grand scale on April 15, 1972, and this was noted abroad as a growing trend in North Korea toward developing a "cult of personality" for Premier Kim II Sung.

It celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Korean People's. Revolutionary Army on April 20 also on a grand scale, with military missions from 30 countries (including state organized groups), including the People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union.

(2) Promulgation of new Constitution

At the fifth general meeting of the fifth term of the Labor Party's Central Committee held from October 23 to 26, 1972, North Korea decided to amend its Constitution and renew registration of Labor Party members. It promulgated the new Constitution on December 28, 1972. Features of the Constitution were (i) the creation of the post of Chief of State which was assumed by incumbent Premier Kim II Sung, (ii) the creation of the Central People's Committee to facilitate integration of the party and the Government machinery, and (iii) the transfer of the capital from Seoul to Pyongyang.

(3) External relations

As for its external relations, North Korea tried to firmly maintain its independent policy line toward the People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union and to maintain close relations with both countries at the same time. It also tried to expand its relations with various countries and succeeded in establishing diplomatic relations with 13 countries, including Rwanda and Uganda, after April 1972.

A total of 49 countries had established diplomatic relations with North Korea and 86 countries with the Republic of Korea by the end of March 1973.

(4) Economic exchange with free world countries

In the economic field, 1972 was the second year of North Korea's six-year economic plan aimed at three great technical revolutions. It seemed that North Korea was having difficulty in achieving its targets through its efforts based on Chuchae thought and economic exchange mainly with the Communist countries. North Korea showed moves toward promoting economic and technical exchange with countries of the free world, including Japan, Britain, France and the Federal Republic of Germany.


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