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Seoul to mark 20th anniversary of inter-Korean summit without Pyongyang

This file photo on June 14, 2000, shows former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung (left) and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-il exchanging the signed South-North joint declaration (Yonhap)
This file photo on June 14, 2000, shows former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung (left) and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-il exchanging the signed South-North joint declaration (Yonhap)
South Korea is planning to hold events marking the 20th anniversary of the first inter-Korean summit next month -- without North Korea’s participation, due to coronavirus concerns and strained inter-Korean relations.

The anniversary of the June 15 South-North Joint Declaration from the historic meeting in 2000 between then-South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is a significant chance for Seoul to revive talks with Pyongyang and try to arrange joint celebrations. 

This year, Seoul has not suggested holding any joint events with Pyongyang.

“We had hoped for a joint celebration as it is the 20th anniversary. But we had to consider the coronavirus situation, as it is spreading not only on the Korean Peninsula but across the world, and the current state of affairs,” a Unification Ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

The two sides held joint events to mark the anniversary every year from 2001 to 2008, with the exception of 2003 because of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome. Since 2009, the two Koreas have held events separately.

The Unification Ministry is holding various online and offline programs June 1-15, including a concert, a forum, and a walking tour near the border area in Paju, Gyeonggi Province. Details are subject to change depending on the coronavirus situation.

The forum, titled “End of War, Start of Peace,” will be aired June 18 on MBC. Moon Chung-in, a special security adviser to President Moon Jae-in, will head the session with the participation of former US Defense Secretary William Perry, former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul. Participants will discuss ways to achieve peace on the peninsula.

By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)
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