Regarding news reports “Seoul’s Pyeongyang support scheme has been prepared for the sake of Mayor Park’s future presidential election?”
- In the wake of the 2004 explosion in Ryongcheon Station in North Korea, the Seoul Metropolitan Government enacted the ordinance and established the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Fund in a bid to implement orderly and systematic inter-Korean projects. Since then, it has steadily carried out diverse inter-Korean programs including restoration support from flood damage, medical assistance and cultural and arts exchanges, and also projects to form and expand the citizens’ consensus for the two Koreas’ peaceful coexistence and reunification.
- As the peace atmosphere has been created since the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and three rounds of summit talks between the North and the South were held in 2018, Seoul raised the fund by additional 25 billion won in 2019 through the review of the Inter-Korean Exchange Cooperation Committee (October 2018) and the decision of the Seoul Metropolitan Council (December 2018). All of these were disclosed to the public via the city government’s official Website on January 7, 2019.
- Even during the years before 2018 when the two Koreas had been suspending overall exchanges, the Seoul Metropolitan Government had prepared inter-Korean exchange scheme – it announced comprehensive exchange and cooperation measures in 2016 in preparation for any improvement of inter-Korean relations.
- Local governments’ inter-Korean projects started in 1999 by sending Jejudo tangerines to North Korea. Since then, they have served as one of the most important pillars along with projects made by the central government, NGOs and enterprises.
- According to a survey of 2,000 Seoul citizens on the inter-Korean exchange and cooperation conducted in December 2018, 69.1 percent of the respondents said “it is necessary,” 66 percent answered “it will improve inter-Korean relations” and 62.8 percent replied “it will help Korea’ reunification.”
- If the cooperation between the two governments is to shake hands, that among local governments and private sectors can be described as folding hands. The latter will be possible to increase trust and stability of the inter-Korean cooperation programs by diversifying and solidifying them while increasing exchanges closely related to citizens’ lives.
Regarding news reports “Seoul will spend a total of 15.05 billion won for this year’s inter-Korean exchange and cooperation projects, which is around four times higher than last year”
- The scope of Seoul’s inter-Korean project is finalized by the decision made between the central government and the North, and the execution plan of the fund is decided every year by the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Committee, comprised of experts on inter-Korean relations.
- The Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Fund is spent flexibly in preparation for future demands for the project, and the 2019 execution plan to spend 15 billion won represents Seoul’s will to improve inter-Korean relations, however its actual execution can be varied depending on what the central government agrees with the North and whether sanctions are applied to the North.
- In case of 2018, the initial amount was 7 billion won, but only 3.7 billion won was spent.