Mansudae Korea

The Legacy of the June 15th North-South Joint Declaration

The June 15th North-South Joint Declaration was the product of the first inter-Korean summit between President Kim Dae-jung of south Korea and the General Kim Jong Il in his capacity as Chairman of the National Defence Commission.

The agreement serves as the bedrock for inter-Korean relations in the 21st century, signed after an historic meeting in Pyongyang; the first time the leaders of the two countries had met since the division of the peninsula in 1945.

General Kim Jong Il with President Kim Dae-jung

The overwhelming goal of the agreement was to create an atmosphere conducive to peace and laying the groundwork for an eventual reunification of the peninsula. The summit marked the apparent success of Kim Dae-jung’s ‘Sunshine Policy’ which encouraged cooperation with Pyongyang, rather than maintaining a hostile posture.

June 2000 Inter-Korean Summit

The first inter-Korean summit was held in Pyongyang, DPRK, between June 13th and June 15th 2000. President Kim Dae-jung travelled to the northern capital by plane, arriving at Sunan International Airport, just north of Pyongyang.

According to Kim Dae-jung, the summit opened the opportunity for peace and reconciliation between the two Koreas, a goal which remains foremost in both nation’s foreign policies, despite constant setbacks occurring over the years.

The leaders met at Sunan International Airport

The summit ended with the signing of the Joint Declaration as well as an 8-point Peace Declaration which outlined the following:

  1. South and North Korea are to implement the June 15 Joint Declaration
  1. South and North Korea are to work for mutual respect and trust in order to overcome differences in ideology, system.
  1. South and North Korea are to ease military tensions, hold defense ministerial talks in November in Pyongyang to discuss ways of supporting inter-Korean economic cooperation and easing tension.
  1. The two sides agree on the need to end the current armistice and establish permanent peace.
  1. The two sides are to create a special peace zone around Haeju in North Korea and nearby areas.
  2. South and North Korea are to develop cooperation in the history, language, education, technology, culture, sports, and social sectors.
  1. South and North Korea are to actively push for humanitarian cooperation and expansion of the reunions of separated families.
  1. South and North Korea are to strengthen cooperation for national interest in the international stage and the benefits of Korean residents abroad.

Sunshine Policy

The June 15 Joint Declaration served as the centrepiece for Kim Dae-jung’s Sunshine Policy which encouraged reproachment and engagement with the DPRK. The introduction of the policy marked the first time that the government in Seoul formally acknowledged that they had no intentions to “absorb” the DPRK in any way.

The bedrock of the policy was the plan to separate economic and political policies and allow southern companies to invest in the DPRK; this was prior to any international or unilateral sanctions being imposed, something which has hindered inter-Korean relations since.

The policy was carried on by Kim Dae-jung’s successor, Roh Moo-hyun, who presided over the government in Seoul during the collapse of the Agreed Framework deal between the DPRK and United States.

Roh Moo-hyun crossing the Military Demarcation Line in the DMZ

The policy resulted in significant inter-Korean developments, including the Kaesong Joint Industrial Complex, although this, along with other inter-Korean projects, were closed by successive conservative governments in Seoul.

The policy was formerly ended during Lee Myung-bak’s administration after a notably more conservative government took power which made demands to Pyongyang, using the expansion of the Kaesong Industrial Complex as leverage.

Declaration Text

The full text of the North-South Joint Declaration reads as follows:

In accordance with the noble will of the entire people who yearn for the peaceful reunification of the nation, President Kim Dae-jung of the Republic of Korea and National Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong-il of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea held a historic meeting and summit talks in Pyongyang from June 13 to June 15, 2000.

The leaders of the South and the North, recognizing that the meeting and the summit talks were of great significance in promoting mutual understanding, developing South-North relations and realizing peaceful reunification, declared as follows:

1. The South and the North have agreed to resolve the question of reunification independently and through the joint efforts of the Korean people, who are the masters of the country.

2. For the achievement of reunification, we have agreed that there is a common element in the South’s concept of a confederation and the North’s formula for a loose form of federation. The South and the North agreed to promote reunification in that direction.

3. The South and the North have agreed to promptly resolve humanitarian issues such as exchange visits by separated family members and relatives on the occasion of the August 15 National Liberation Day and the question of unswerving Communists serving prison sentences in the South.

4. The South and the North have agreed to consolidate mutual trust by promoting balanced development of the national economy through economic cooperation and by stimulating cooperation and exchanges in civic, cultural, sports, health, environmental and all other fields.

5. The South and the North have agreed to hold a dialogue between relevant authorities in the near future to implement the above agreements expeditiously. President Kim Dae-jung cordially invited National Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong-il to visit Seoul, and Chairman Kim Jong-il will visit Seoul at an appropriate time.

Benjamin Weston

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