It is seven years since the adoption of the October 4 Declaration, that is, the Declaration for Development of North-South Relations and Peace and Prosperity. The adoption of the June 15 North-South Joint Declaration in 2000 stimulated the Korean people’s aspiration to national reunification as strongly as never before. Meanwhile, the anti-reunification moves got ever more vicious.
Considering the situation the north and the south of Korea adopted the October 4 Declaration, action programme of the June 15 Declaration, on October 4, 2007 in order to bring about a turn in the national reunification movement by the concerted efforts of the nation. In the declaration the north and the south avowed that they would uphold and positively implement the June 15 Joint Declaration, convert the north-south relations definitely into those of mutual respect and confidence transcending the difference in ideology and system, and closely cooperate with each other in the efforts to put an end to hostile military relations and ensure détente and peace in the Korean peninsula. The declaration also addresses such issues of putting an end to the existing armistice mechanism and building a lasting peace mechanism, energizing economic cooperation and ensuring its sustained development on the principles of achieving common prosperity and meeting each other’s needs with a view to balanced development of the national economy, developing exchange and cooperation in social and cultural fields, and pushing forward humanitarian cooperation.
With the adoption of the October 4 Declaration the Koreans became able to vigorously push ahead with the national reunification movement with a definite aim and conviction of independent reunification, peace and prosperity, and in the spirit of By our nation itself. In the days of implementing the declaration there was held the 9th round of inter-Korean Red Cross talks in the Mt. Kumgang resort when the two sides agreed to expand meetings of the separated families and relatives and the exchange of video messages. The inter-Korean defence minister-level talks and general-level military talks were held in an effort to put an end to military hostilities between the two sides, ease tensions and settle peace in the Korean peninsula. And an agreement was reached on settling disputes by means of dialogue and negotiation while observing their commitment to nonaggression.
The Kaesong Industrial Park was revitalized in the course of developing and expanding the economic cooperation on the principles of ensuring common interests and prosperity, and complementing one another. The lease of premises, the land use tax and all sorts of taxes levied on the south Korean businesses in the industrial park are as good as free. According to the public announcement of the south Korean authorities the south side would have US$ 1.28 million of daily loss, and the businesses concerned would suffer US$ 6 billion of loss in case of the closure of the park. Through the eye-opening events that came along with the implementation of the declaration the Korean people were convinced that they could be one over all the difficulties, and that they could achieve the country’s reunification and the prosperity with their own efforts though there exist different ideologies and systems in the north and the south .
But no sooner had the Lee Myung Bak regime taken power than the inter-Korean dialogue and cooperation as a whole lost its life. As soon as he took office through the “presidential elections” in December 2007, Lee flatly denied the commitment to the inter-Korean declarations and obstructed dialogue between both sides for the implementation. Many dialogues and contacts for the implementation of the October 4 Declaration ended in failure, including the first session of the subcommittee for inter-Korean cooperation in railway transport, the inter-Korean working level contact for revitalization of Mt. Kumgang tourism and the first session of the subcommittee for inter-Korean cooperation in highway project which were held in Kaesong between late January and February 2008. Moreover, the regime disrupted over 20 inter-Korean talks and cooperation projects which were slated to be held in the first half of 2008 such as the second round of the inter-Korean premier-level talks and second meeting of the vice-premier-level joint committee for inter-Korean economic cooperation. Thus, the nation’s efforts towards reunification delayed several years, and it set back inter-Korean relations.
The private economic cooperation and the economy of south Korea suffered immeasurable losses. According to the south Korean media, the direct loss of the south Korean business involved in the north-south private cooperation, reached US$ 2.75 billion while the indirect loss US$ 7.48 billion in a year and a half since the fabrication of the “May 24 Measure” on the false charge of the sunken ship Cheonan of the south Korean Navy. The suspension of inter-Korean cooperation caused inflation of prices, outflow of foreign capital and mass bankruptcy of companies, losing 300 000 jobs. Most of the respondents to an opinion poll in south Korea denounced the Lee regime’s nullification of the October 4 Declaration. The lesson shows that respecting the north-south joint declarations and their implementation is crucial problem decisive of the destiny of inter-Korean relations.
Implementing the declarations is the basic way to achieve peace and reunification, the long-cherished desire of the Korean nation.