Yoon Suk Yeol may walk away from joint declaration with Pyongyang
President Yoon Suk Yeol may consider suspending both the 2018 Pyongyang Joint Declaration and the Sept. 19 inter-Korean military pact if the North intrudes upon the South’s territory again, according to officials Thursday.
Both were signed at the third summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in September 2018 in Pyongyang.
The Pyongyang Declaration called for the cessation of cross-border military hostilities and for inter-Korean cooperation and exchanges to promote permanent peace on the peninsula.
The 2018 inter-Korean comprehensive military agreement signed by the countries’ defense chiefs called for the dismantling of guard posts in the demilitarized zone (DMZ), a no-fly zone over parts of the military demarcation line (MDL) as well as a gradual disarmament of the Joint Security Area (JSA).
In a meeting with aides Monday, Yoon instructed the presidential National Security Office (NSO) to consider suspending the Sept. 19, 2019 military agreement “in the event North Korea carries out another such provocation violating our territory.”
The order came after North Korean drones infiltrated South Korean airspace on Dec. 26. The South’s military failed to shoot down the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) even after firing over 100 shots.
Officials pointed out Thursday that the suspension of the implementation of the inter-Korean military pact is linked to the Pyongyang Joint Declaration, as it is an annex of the larger summit agreement.
The declaration stipulates the adoption of a military pact “as an annex to the Pyongyang Declaration, and to thoroughly abide by and faithfully implement it.”
On Thursday, the Unification Ministry said it began a legal review to see if it can resume propaganda broadcasts at the border or the sending of leaflets into North Korea if the 2018 military agreement is suspended.
A Unification Ministry official told reporters that Article 23 of the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act stipulates that the president can suspend inter-Korean agreements, or parts of them, for a fixed period of time “when significant changes occur in inter-Korean relations, or when it is deemed necessary for national security, maintenance of order or public welfare.”
Article 24 prevents acts such as propaganda broadcasts and cross-border leaflet distribution, which can be resumed if the military pact is suspended.
The Unification Ministry said its position is that these prohibited actions could be enabled without an amendment by the National Assembly.
If an agreement signed between the two Koreas obtained the consent of the National Assembly for its ratification, the effect of the agreement can be suspended by the president with parliamentary consent.
However, the Pyongyang Joint Declaration and its annexed Sept. 19 military agreement was ratified by President Moon without the consent of the National Assembly in 2018.
The official said that that the government was not reviewing the suspension of the Pyongyang Declaration at the moment adding that “our position that all agreements between the two Koreas must be respected and implemented has not changed.”
North Korea violated the military agreement 17 times since its signing, including 15 times since October, according to the presidential office and Defense Ministry.
The United States is also “concerned” about North Korea’s “apparent disregard of the 2018 comprehensive military agreement” with the South, said U.S. State Department press secretary Ned Price in a daily briefing Wednesday in Washington, when asked about Seoul’s possible suspension of this pact.
He called on Pyongyang to “end its irresponsible and escalatory behavior,” but referred the reporter to Seoul on the topic of the “possible abrogation of this comprehensive military agreement.”
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]