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Evaluation Mixed Over 2007 Inter-Korean Declaration

Posted October. 02, 2009 15:21,   


Sunday will mark the second anniversary of the 2007 inter-Korean summit declaration between the late South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

The declaration was the second between the two Koreas after the 2000 joint declaration signed by President Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong ll under the vision “national reconciliation, cooperation, peace and prosperity.

Former South Korean Prime Minister Lee Hong-koo told a recent symposium that the two declarations were made under the basic premise of building a national community in a broader sense.

Since the inauguration of the conservative Lee Myung-bak administration, however, the 2005 declaration has undergone a harsh reevaluation. Critics blast the agreement as a hastily signed deal aimed at helping Roh’s party to win the 2007 presidential election and have his successor maintain the “sunshine policy” of engagement with the North. They also say the declaration was made unilaterally in favor of the North.

A Seoul official said the declaration’s respect of the ideologies and systems of the two Koreas provided the ground for arguments against the South’s National Security Law and allowed the North to question the Northern Limit Line, which is the de facto sea border between the two Koreas.

Critics also say the declaration was a promise of largesse for the North through large-scale economic cooperation projects and aid. The Unification Ministry in Seoul said the deal last year cost the South 14.3 trillion won (12.2 billion U.S. dollars).

In addition, the declaration is criticized for giving the North an excuse to launch a political offensive on the South and pressuring the Lee administration to respect the agreement.

Progressive groups have a different view, however. Kim Yeon-cheol, head of the Hankyoreh Foundation for Unification and Culture, told a seminar on the 2007 joint declaration Sunday that no major inter-Korean issues were excluded from the declaration.

Cho Myung-kyun, former secretary for national security under President Roh, also said that by implementing the declaration, the South took the leading role in the process of resolving the North’s nuclear program.

Meanwhile, the North, which agreed with the South’s Hyundai Group on five points related to inter-Korean exchanges in August, is poised to urge the South to implement the declaration through dialogue.

Considering that Seoul has repeatedly offered talks with Pyongyang on devising measures to implement all inter-Korean agreements, including the 2005 declaration, both sides could hold a high-level meeting on the matter this year.